Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles during Question Time at Parliament House earlier this year. File picture
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles during Question Time at Parliament House earlier this year. File picture

Health Minister’s new plea for Qld councils to fluoridate water

HEALTH Minister Steven Miles has issued a final plea to Queensland councils to voluntarily fluoridate their water, warning he doesn't want to "force their hands" as the deadline for consultation looms.

It's perhaps the strongest signal yet the Government is poised to mandate fluoride across the state.

The Australian Medical Association and the Australian Dental Association have sent letters to councils at the behest of the Palaszczuk Government.

" … there is no coincidence that the councils in Queensland which do not have fluoridated water have corresponding high rates of dental decay, and with 28% of the Queensland population not receiving the supported benefits of fluoridated water, the rates of dental decay, particularly in children and the elderly are set to increase," they wrote.

Health Minister Steven Miles. File picture
Health Minister Steven Miles. File picture

Mr Miles has urged councillors to heed the advice of the medical professionals.

"I don't want to force the hand of councils, I want to see the few councils not using fluoride to add it to their water supplies voluntarily," Mr Miles told The Courier-Mail.

"I'm on the record in support of fluoride in water supplies, but I want this to be a health issue, not a political issue.

"That's why I asked the AMAQ and ADAQ to undertake consultation because it's more effective for medical professionals to talk to councils about the health of their communities.

"They're expected to give feedback to the Government by mid-year."

Two-thirds of Queensland's councils currently do not fluoridate their water, representing about 800,000 constituents, including 19 that pulled out after the former Newman government changed the law to allow councils to decide whether or not to add it to their community's water supply.

The Courier-Mail understands Queensland Health has also commissioned research into how best to communicate the benefits of fluoride to the community without the issue being captured by an "anti-vaxxer" style scare campaign.

Mother of four Katie Lavercombe told The Courier-Mail fluoride should be added to water supplies statewide.

"If it's going to help people keep their teeth healthy then it should be added," she said.

"It's so sad that people can be waiting for two years on public dental lists, especially children. Dental work can be so expensive and for some families they just can't afford it.

"If families can't afford to go to the doctor then they aren't going to be able to afford the dentist, placing pressure on the public system."

Xavier, 4, and Bella Lavercombe, 6, brushing their teeth at home in Wilston. Picture: Tara Croser.
Xavier, 4, and Bella Lavercombe, 6, brushing their teeth at home in Wilston. Picture: Tara Croser.

Ms Lavercombe said studies had debunked myths that fluoride causes other health issues.

Mr Miles said multiple councils already had the infrastructure in place to enable the addition of fluoride after receiving funding from the former Bligh Government to install it.

"Some councils still have legacy infrastructure that was paid for by the previous Labor Government, but they refuse to use it.

"Other councils stopped building infrastructure when the legislation changed in 2012, or have since removed the fluoride infrastructure."

His comments comes the latest figures to March show 723 people have been on the dental public waiting list for more than two years for treatment.

The figure for December was a staggering 1935 people.

It had been zero in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The Government has put that down to a dip in Federal funding, from $30 million per year in 2016 to $16.2 million in 2019.