Rous washes its hands of fluoride

By ALEX EASTON

ROUS WATER wants the State Government body pushing for fluoride to be added to our drinking water to run the community consultation program that will decide the controversial issue.

Rous councillors yesterday backed a recommendation by general manager Paul Muldoon that the Department of Health's Teeth for Life Campaign ask the community what it thinks of the plan.

At the core of that decision was a concern that, whatever its merits, fluoride was an expensive health issue being dumped on local government by a State Government department.

If the Government wanted fluoridated drinking water it should demand it and pay for it, several councillors said.

The decision followed impassioned presentations from antifluoridationist Peter Olsen and Julie Hornibrook, general manager of the Northern NSW Oral Health Network.

Ms Hornibrook argued that flu- oridation was backed by all Australian health ministers, along with reputable health groups such as the Cancer Council, Ostoeporosis Australia, the Alzheimers Association, Kidney Australia, the World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Mr Olsen pointed out eight European countries had abandoned water fluoridation after having it for periods of about 30 years, adding that Australian opinion polls pointed towards public opposition to fluoridation.

The issue prompted similarlyimpassioned statements from councillors, with Byron Shire councillor Richard Staples arguing against fluoride and fellow Byron Shire councillor Ross Tucker and Rous chairman and Ballina mayor Phil Silver arguing in favour of it.

Only Cr Staples, who wanted fluoride rejected immediately, and Cr Tucker, who wanted it introduced immediately, voted against having the Health Department tak- ing over the consultations.



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