THE heads of Murrumbidgee and Carrathool councils have questioned legislation that could force them to introduce fluoride into the town water supply, despite a government compensation package proposed this week.
The councils are among just 4 per cent of local government areas across the state that do not include fluoride in the water supply, but new legislation tabled last week could see the government make the addition mandatory.
Health minister Jillian Skinner announced on Wednesday the state government would commit $7.5 million to ensure councils were supported to build the vital infrastructure needed to fluoridate their water supplies.
“The NSW government is committing $5 million to ensure the 15 councils who have chosen not to fluoridate are able to provide this vital service to their communities,” Mrs Skinner said. “A further $2.5 million will be invested for the implementation of technological advancements for smaller communities with current approval for fluoridation.”
Mayor of Murrumbidgee Shire Council Phillip Wells said his council did not add the natural mineral to the water supply because it was not mandatory and he believed it was a “very costly exercise”.
But Cr Wells felt if the state government was going to override council’s decision, he hoped sufficient funds would be made available.
“It’s something council will have to abide by,” Cr Wells said.
“Hopefully the funds will be able to assist with the transition.”
Carrathool Shire Mayor Peter Laird said his council had made the decision six years ago not to introduce fluoride, due to the wishes of the residents.
Cr Laird said the council had sent out a survey to the district and the overwhelming response was against fluoridation.
“I would question the government on this but if they do decide to enforce it, it would be up to the minister,” Cr Laird said. “If we have to do it funding would help, but the decision should be up to the community.
“As a council, we’re open to revisit it but we felt at the time we did everything we could.”