Pictured outside the Byron Shire council were anti-fluoride supporters: L-R Ilga Sleja, Moanna Sky, Catherine Patterson and son Adam Patterson-Atkinson (10) and Andy Holm
Pictured outside the Byron Shire council were anti-fluoride supporters: L-R Ilga Sleja, Moanna Sky, Catherine Patterson and son Adam Patterson-Atkinson (10) and Andy Holm Megan Kinninment

Byron rejects fluoride all over again at emotional meeting

"THANKS but no thanks" - Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson summed up his council's stand on fluoridation at a packed, and at times highly emotional, council meeting yesterday.

Councillors spent well over an hour to vote down a motion by deputy mayor Dianne Woods to add fluoride to the shire's water supply, with the gallery erupting in cheers and applause when the motion was defeated.

Before the meeting activists said fluoridation was a human rights issue, and that the science was not there to support the "medication" of drinking water.

Ilga Sleja from the Ballina Fluoridation Free Network said: "Emotions are boiling over, but the reality is that people have done their own research and we support the precautionary principle. It (fluoridating) is against our civil rights."

Cr Woods told the chambers that after "digging deeper" into the fluoride issue, she was not convinced about it being harmful.

"Fluoridation will not make us sick, but it will make your children's oral health better," she said.

"This is for our children, who cannot vote themselves."

Speaking against fluoridation, Cr Duncan Dey described fluoridating water as a "dumb way" to provide dental care, to applause from the gallery.

"I have no opposition to people having better teeth. My problem is people's lack of choice," Cr Dey said.

In his speech against Cr Wood's plan, Cr Richardson urged councillors to adhere to the precautionary principle.

"Most of the world, with the exception of the USA and Australia, has enough concerns about fluoride to enact the precautionary principle," Cr Richardson said.

While protesters described the council's decisions as "a victory for commonsense", Cr Woods said she was disappointed the motion was defeated.

"There's been way too much fear-mongering about this issue," Cr Woods said.

"It's cowardly by the State Government to force local government to make these decisions.

"It's a state responsibility."

Byron's decision is in contrast to its neighbouring councils. Ballina Shire Council has agreed to fluoridate its water supply while Lismore City Council will vote on the matter at its meeting on December 10.


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