Long-time fluoridation opponent, Port Macquarie-Hastings deputy mayor Lisa Intemann, has responded to MP Leslie Williams' statements this week by agreeing to negotiate directly with NSW Health rather than continue the push for a community poll at the December council elections.
Cr Intemann will formally put a notice of motion to can the poll at the September 6 extra ordinary meeting of council.
She said while a community poll would have been an effective way to gauge community opinion on the fluoridation of the Hastings water supply, feedback has been respectfully taken on board.
Cr Intemann hopes discussion at a state level on an issue she has championed for more than 17 years will be fair and open.
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We don't need extra anxiety in the community, and if Mrs Williams thinks the poll is making people fearful then I'm willing to accept her invitation to direct negotiation with NSW Health.Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann
The Port Macquarie MP weighed into the highly emotive debate this week, calling on council to pull the community poll asking for public opinion on water fluoridation of the Hastings water supply, to instead bring the discussion to the state government table.
Mrs Williams has opposed a community poll on the issue saying it was an "appalling" waste of ratepayers' money on legislation that is mandated by the state government.
She opened a space for discussion with council as the water authority, and any other member of the public who has concerns about fluoridation, to speak with her and she will make representations to the Health Minister on their behalf.
"The whole-of-community poll is a perfect way to get the people's real view on fluoridation, and I was very much looking forward to the voting results," Cr Intemann said.
"But we don't need extra anxiety in the community, and if Mrs Williams thinks the poll is making people fearful then I'm willing to accept her invitation to direct negotiation with NSW Health.
"I am trusting Mrs Williams that there can be a fair and honest process to examine fluoridation with them."
Cr Intemann said that 'naturally' for her, that means putting the health and well-being of the community first, and a focus on the 'facts and science'.
"I've been vocal on this issue for a long time, and I'm sure NSW Health is well aware of my approach already from our past interactions on this topic. With that understanding, I look forward to the discussion," she said.
Cr Intemann said the recent public debate over fluoridation had been widely informative and is taking positive gains from engaging the community on the issue.
"Fluoridation is such a taboo subject and I've been told that talking and reading about it openly was very helpful for a lot of people," she said.
"Of course, it's up to council, but personally I'm willing to discuss the science and law directly with NSW Health if that's their preference.
"I hope it can be included as a matter of urgency, so councillors can consider it as soon as possible."
Mayor Peta Pinson, in formally advising the NSW Health Minister of council's intent to proceed with a poll at the council elections in December, also requested a clear explanation around where the fluoride used in the water supply is sourced, how it is used in the fluoridation process and deemed safe by NSW Health for human consumption.
The mayor has maintained the community poll is an opportunity to give ratepayers "a voice". She has used her casting vote twice to get it across the line when it has been brought before the council, supported by Cr Intemann and Cr Sharon Griffiths.
Crs Rob Turner, Geoff Hawkins and Peter Alley have firmly opposed the poll.
The Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies Act 1957 (the Act) sets out a very clear pathway for the authorisation and control of the addition of fluorine to public water supplies which was followed by the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council when the decision was made to fluoridate drinking water in 2004.
Fluoridation of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council water supply commenced in February 2012 following the construction of a fluoride dosing plant at Rosewood.
Funding of $1.78 million was provided by NSW Health in 2012 for the facility at Rosewood under the condition that should council discontinue dosing the water supply within 15 years of the funding being provided, council would have to refund the full amount.
Water utilities in NSW are required, by law, to add fluoride to water.
Under the Act (1957), it is only the Secretary of the Department of Health who can revoke the direction to cease water fluoridation.
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