Council revolts at fluoride plan
BUNDABERG Regional Council has staged a revolt over state government plans to force the fluoridation of the region's water supply.
Councillor Alan Bush, a long-time opponent of fluoridation, yesterday succeeded in getting the council to agree not to go ahead with the work until the government meets council representatives and addresses their concerns.
Cr Bush told the meeting the council had written to Premier Anna Bligh and various ministers twice asking for a meeting.
However, none of them had yet agreed to make an appointment to discuss fluoridation.
Cr Bush said the State Government cannot be trusted to fully fund the infrastructure needed to fluoridate the region's water.
"It appears once the State Government signs the agreement to fund the infrastructure it's locked in, but they don't seem to want to sign it," he said after the meeting.
"We've budgeted for this expense without the commitment from them to agree to it."
Cr Bush said the State Government had a history of leaving the council out of pocket.
"They let us down with the amalgamation costs and the 40% subsidy for water and wastewater treatment that they just took off us," he said.
Cr Bush said a rough estimate of the cost of the infrastructure was $10 million, with $1 million a year in ongoing costs.
"If they decide they will only fund 80% of the cost that leaves us with a $2 million bill," he said.
"Every million puts another 4% on to water rates, so that would be 8% extra."
Cr Bush said he wanted a meeting as soon as possible to find out what the State Government intended to do.
"If they're not going to fund the full amount, we need to take steps," he said.
"If we don't have their commitment, we should have the option not to fluoridate our water."
Health Minister Geoff Wilson said councils had been aware of their legal obligation since 2008.
"This is a policy government took to the last election and was endorsed by the people of Queensland," he said.
"Consultation with councils has been extensive, but the time for that consultation is now over.
"The council has a legal obligation to get on with the job of protecting local kids from tooth decay given the very substantial broader health impacts throughout a person's life, with Queensland children previously having some of the worst rates of dental health in the country."