A move to abandon a water fluoridation community poll at the next council election has been narrowly defeated.
Cr Rob Turner had sought for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council not to proceed with any community poll in conjunction with the September council election.
Instead, he wanted a councillor briefing on costed options for obtaining feedback from the whole community on fluoridation of the public water supply.
The vote was deadlocked and mayor Peta Pinson used her casting vote to defeat the motion raised by Cr Turner.
Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann then put forward a new motion, which got across the line after the mayor again used her casting vote.
The chief executive officer, Dr Clare Allen, will advise councillors by April 2021 on possible options, with approximate cost, for ways to determine community opinion on water fluoridation which would be superior to or add weight to the September 4 community poll.
Cr Intemann said this did not close off the opportunity for a poll at the September election.
She said it also left it open to the chief executive officer to perhaps bring forward better alternatives.
Cr Pinson added her support.
"This is about the community having a voice over fluoride," she said.
"It's not about stopping fluoride at this stage."
Cr Pinson acknowledged the deputy mayor's 18-year campaign on the issue.
Cr Geoff Hawkins remains opposed to a water fluoridation community poll.
"I don't think it is the wisest expenditure of money and I also think that it's likely to be a distraction on the main purpose [the local government election]," he said.
Cr Turner said the poll was not a wise use of council resources when it was not going to solve the problem.
"A poll is just asking people what they think," he said.
Cr Intemann said a poll was a way to get the community's opinion on the matter.
"That is indisputable," she said.
The council noted Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock had expressed concern about council holding the community poll.
Dr Allen has been asked to write to the minister outlining local concerns about water fluoridation and requesting her advice on how council might have those concerns addressed.
The chief executive officer will start arranging for an information sheet to inform the community on water fluoridation and provide arguments on both sides of the debate.
The council resolved in July to conduct the poll in conjunction with the September 4 election.
The question is to read "yes or no: would you prefer that council stop adding fluoride (hydrofluorosilicic acid) to the public water supply?"
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