The Port Macquarie-Hastings community is a step closer to having its say on whether council should continue to add fluoride to the water supply.
The decision for poll on water fluoridation to run in conjunction with the September 2020 election was voted on at the Wednesday, February 19 council meeting.
The general manager will report to council in March 2020 and detail the approximate costs, process and proposed wording of such poll, asking whether council should be adding fluoride to the water supply, or not.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council Mayor Peta Pinson voiced her health concerns about the addition of fluoride to the water supply at the meeting.
She described fluoride as a poison and said she's worried about its impact on individuals' health.
Cr Pinson said she's conducted research and undertaken extensive reading on the subject before she was elected as Mayor for the council.
Cr Pinson believes it's important the community has its say on what it would like.
"It's the least we can do and the least we can offer for our community," she said.
Cr Pinson issued a message to people who have concerns the issue will become an election conversation.
"Shame on you because that's quite shallow," she said.
In a question to council's general manager Craig Swift-McNair, Cr Alley asked if council would have to cease adding fluoride to the water, if in the event the outcome of the poll was in favour of stopping its addition.
Mr Swift-McNair said the poll result is not binding on any regard.
Council currently adds fluoride to the Hastings water supply during the treatment process.
This is in accordance with the Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957 and the NSW Code of Practice for Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies 2011. The process has been in effect since February 2012.
Cr Alley spoke against the motion as he said he doesn't believe there is any chance the state government would allow council to cease fluoridation.
"We might as well ask them (the community) Holden versus Ford," he said.
"All we are measuring is how many people we are going to disappoint."
Cr Pinson asked Cr Alley if his statement was a personal one and he agreed.
"No facts or figures?," Cr Pinson said.
Cr Alley said his statement comes from his experience of politics and knowledge that both sides of politics have supported fluoridation.
"There's no indication to suggest this will change," he said.
Cr Hawkins said as councillors they have a responsibility to spend and invest ratepayers' funds responsibly.
"It's going to cost money for something we can't act upon," he said.
Cr Turner said the format of a poll is outdated and it's a waste of time in 2020 to do something when council has no control over the outcome.
Cr Levido said there are bigger and more important issues relevant to local government.
Cr Intemann spoke in support of the motion and said she will take every opportunity to discourage the practice of adding fluoride to the water.
She said she was aware of a growing amount of evidence showing adverse health effects due to the practice and credited a poll as being a valid way to gauge people's opinions.
Councillors voted and were split evenly for those in favour and those against. The Mayor used her casting vote and the motion was carried.
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