Anti-fluoride groups have been placed in the crosshairs of potential State Parliament legislation that aims to give additional powers to the NSW Health Minister.
Shadow health spokesman Walt Secord introduced legislation on Tuesday, February 13, which, if passed, would give the minister additional powers to direct local councils and water authorities to add fluoride to their drinking water supply.
Mr Secord said the legislation would “create tough new fluoride laws to over-ride the anti-fluoride movement, which is surfacing in NSW”.
He cites Bega Valley as one of the areas where “a vocal minority” are using “tactics similar to the anti-vaxxer movement”.
“On the South Coast, ‘Clean Water for Life – Fluoride Free for Bega Valley Shire’ has been active in spreading health concerns and conspiracy theories on fluoride,” Mr Secord said.
I challenge local MP Andrew Constance to state where he stands on this.Shadow health spokesman Walt Secord
“If a council is vacillating, or stringing out the process this bill allows the minister to step in.”
Currently a council can defer to the Minister of Health if it feels it is unable to make a decision but the minister cannot take action without council’s acquiescence.
Anti-fluoridation campaigner Rob Slazenger, of Bermagui said he was surprised the shadow health spokesman was trying to enforce something that “many people feel is unwarranted”.
“He has not consulted with or met with people in this shire. I would have thought if he was a savvy politician he would want to meet with the community,” Mr Slazenger said.
“The system is being designed to make it impossible to refuse to have fluoride. I suspect many of our councillors feel pressured; this is not an ideal situation,” Mr Slazenger added.
Research from the NSW Parliamentary Library reports that currently there are 53 non-fluoridated water supply systems in NSW with a population of at least 500 people according to Mr Secord’s research.
“Bega Valley is one of the top three systems of those who are able to have fluoridated water but doesn’t currently have their system fully fluoridated,” he said.
“I am calling on the Liberals and Nationals to support this bill because the issue is above politics; it’s about the next generation’s teeth.
“I will be briefing the cross benches in the next week, but I would say that local MP Andrew Constance has been silent on this issue. I would like to see him support it and I challenge him to state where he stands on this.”
Following the Fluoride Bill’s introduction on February 13, Mr Secord expects it to have a second reading and for debate to start in this session of Parliament.