The community will have its say on water fluoridation at the next local government election, it has been confirmed.
A community poll on the controversial issue was locked in for the September 2020 local government election but then the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the council elections across NSW being pushed back to September 2021.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has amended the date of the community poll, resolving to conduct the poll on water fluoridation in conjunction with the next local government election.
That falls on September 4, 2021.
The question will read: "Would you prefer that council stop adding fluoride (hydrofluorosilicic acid) to the public water supply?"
Anti-fluoridation campaigner John Lusk wholeheartedly agrees with the community poll decision.
"You have to go to the people," he said.
"It is the right thing to do. It is just a matter of common sense that you ask the people you are dosing."
Mr Lusk believes is it critical that the council stages a public forum before the poll to present both sides of the argument.
Fluoridation began here in February 2012 after the council referred the decision to the state government.
The NSW Department of Health subsequently directed the council to fluoridate its drinking water supply.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said there was science developing very rapidly about fluoride's potential negative impact on the body.
She said it was the council's role to take an interest in the community's wellbeing.
Cr Intemann said the council had a responsibility to ask the community what they actually thought, so the council could know going forward what it might wish to do in terms of further discussions with the Department of Health.
She said a USA court case was a tremendous step forward in bringing the science into public scrutiny, and she was very hopeful that the ruling would open people's eyes to the mythology behind water fluoridation and the real risk it posed to human health.
Mayor Peta Pinson said the poll was the council's response to allow the community to have its say.
"In fact, council every day, over various issues, asks the community to have their say," she said.
Cr Pinson said it was the council's role to listen.
The mayor also raised the issue of economic equity.
She said there were people who didn't have the choice but to drink tap water, and for those who chose not to, they found other means such as buying bottled water or putting filters on taps.
Cr Rob Turner said there were far more effective ways than a poll to consult with the community.
He said he thought it was a potentially divisive matter which the council had no jurisdiction over.
Cr Turner said NSW Department of Health mandated that the council fluoridate the public water supply.
Cr Peter Alley described the community poll as an exercise in futility because water fluoridation was a state government issue.
But Cr Lee Dixon said a poll was the perfect opportunity, in conjunction with the election, to find out how the community felt about water fluoridation.
Crs Lee Dixon, Sharon Griffiths, Lisa Intemann and Peta Pinson voted for the decision, and Peter Alley, Geoff Hawkins and Rob Turner voted against.
What else is making news, sport?
Thank you for valuing local journalism with your subscription. While you're with us, you can also receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.