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Port Macquarie-Hastings Council agrees to can community poll on fluoride

Council agrees to can community poll on fluoride

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has formally agreed to rescind its decision to hold a community poll on water fluoridation at the December 4 local government elections.

The decision comes after rigorous community debate including the submission of a petition to council by local health care specialists.

The petition was submitted by Dr Roshan Abraham on behalf of 137 residents, health professionals and scientists supporting fluoridation of the water supply and opposing the community poll.

The poll, championed by mayor Peta Pinson and deputy mayor Lisa Intemann, aimed to gauge community opinion on the future of water fluoridation by asking the question: "Do you want Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to permanently cease adding fluoride (hydrofluorosilicic acid) to the drinking water supply"?

Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams stepped in last week and again voiced her dismay at what she described as an "appalling waste" of ratepayer funds.

Mrs Williams said discussion, or concern, about council's legal requirement to fluoridate the water supply, should be directed to the state government and not gauged via a costly community poll that was to be non-binding and not compulsory for residents to participate in.

Cr Intemann, who has been an anti-fluoride advocate for more than 17 years, made the difficult decision to put a motion to the September 6 extra ordinary council meeting to rescind the poll.

The deputy mayor said she will take up the state MP's offer for robust, honest and respectful discussion on the matter with the Secretary for Health who is the only person able to revoke the direction to fluoridate water.

She was supported by Crs Rob Turner, Geoff Hawkins and Peter Alley in rescinding the poll and shifting the debate into the space offered by the state MP.

Cr Intemann said councillors can represent the community and its opinions on water fluoridation as a part of that direct discussion.

Cr Sharon Griffiths said the community should have a right to express its opinion on the matter and end the debate on whether to maintain, or make an application to the state government to cease water fluoridation, once and for all.

Cr Pinson said it takes a polarising issue off the table and sends a strong message to the community, who deserve the facts about what is put into the water supply, that council "doesn't want to hear the inconvenient truth".

The mayor and Cr Griffiths did not support the rescission motion to "take away the community's right to have their say".

Council's chief executive Dr Clare Allen will formally advise the Electoral Commission that council will not be holding a community poll in conjunction with the local government election on December 4.

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