Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek.
Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek. Chris Ison

Plibersek won't force Qld councils to fluoridate local water

DEMANDS for the Federal Government to overrule a number of Queensland councils refusing to add fluoride to water supplies have been rejected by Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

In the lead-up to meetings held between state and federal governments in April, six peak health bodies called on Ms Plibersek to force councils to embrace the scheme.

After it was first mandated by the former Queensland Labor Government, the LNP Government gave councils the final word.

North Burnett, South Burnett and Fraser Coast councils have opted to remove it from their towns' water supplies, while Bundaberg was able to refuse it before the process began.

National Rural Health Alliance - which has 34 member organisations including the Royal Flying Doctor Service - called for the Federal Government to directly intervene.

NRHA executive director Gordon Gregory said there had to be a balance between personal liberties and public health measures, but likened fluoridated water to seatbelts in terms of social benefit.

"There is clear evidence that, on balance, fluoridation is very good for oral and dental health and it has a great equity about it," he said.

"Aside from visits to private dentists, it reaches the poorest and worst-off people in the community.

"The science shows it will protect the next generation of kids."

A spokesman for the Health Minister said it was up to the LNP Government to step in because it was the one responsible for allowing communities to remove it.

Ms Plibersek's office released figures showing for every dollar spent on adding fluoride to water, the savings in health care ranged between $12 and $80 depending on the health of the community.

Some councils have baulked at having to pay the cost of fluoridating while other opponents suggested there were dangers to adding fluoride to water supplies.

The Federal Government said there was little evidence to suggest that was true.



Councils that will stop adding fluoride to water:

  • North Burnett
  • South Burnett
  • Fraser Coast
  • Cairns
  • Doomadgee

Councils that have not added fluoride and will keep it that way:

  • Bundaberg
  • Burdekin
  • Blackall Tambo
  • Cloncurry
  • Charters Towers
  • Cassowary Coast