A DIVISIVE community debate has ended, for now, after Oberon Council voted to allow fluoride to be added to the town’s water supply.
But the peace might not last long as fluoridation opponents are already warning that the battle isn’t over.
Oberon councillors voted 5-3 in favour of fluoridation at their ordinary meeting on Tuesday night after a months-long debate in the town that had, at times, become personal.
Previous attempts to introduce the dental health measure had been unsuccessful, the most recent being in 2014, when councillors voted 5-3 against fluoridation.
The Oberon Council chambers were packed on Tuesday night for the ordinary meeting.
Councillor Mark Kellam, who moved the motion to allow the fluoridation to go ahead, said his decision was based on sound evidence.
"I've listened to all the pros and cons and all the objective evidence and I've made this decision to fluoridate,” he said.
Oberon Council general manager Gary Wallace's report to the council said NSW Health commissioned the Social Research Centre to gauge the Oberon community’s views on fluoridation.
"The survey found that 53 per cent of all respondents agreed with adding fluoride to the public drinking water supply, 35 per cent disagreed and 12 per cent neither agreed or disagreed,” the report said.
Cr Brenda Lyon disagreed with the report findings.
"There were only 371 people contacted – this is not a good indication,” she said.
Not ready to give up the fight against fluoride
THE battle isn’t over.
That’s the message from those opposed to fluoride being added to Oberon’s water supply after councillors voted to go ahead with the measure on Tuesday night.
The packed council chambers soon emptied after the decision as those opposed shook their heads in shock.
Veronika Cvitanovic said as disappointing as she found Tuesday night's decision, she was more disappointed because she felt councillors had ignored all of the council feedback.
"The council feedback showed 69 per cent stated they were against fluoridation, yet councillors chose to rely on the phone survey which showed 53 per cent were in favour,” she said.
"If they had combined the raw data, they would have realised that 60 per cent were against and only 40 per cent were for fluoridation.
"But what I find even more interesting is the council feedback had 192 in favour and the survey had 197 in favour. Coincidence? I think not.
"Also, why did the survey stop at 371 respondents? Perhaps they were finding it hard to manufacture the result they required to justify their position that they had already settled upon?"
Chris Freeman said he believed the motion to fluoridate the water was clearly decided long before Tuesday’s vote.
"The proponents of fluoridation in the community and on the council who insist that NSW Health and the ADA [Australian Dental Association] are the only voices reliably worth listening to are now out in the open and on notice,” he said.
"More than enough of the community have spoken loudly and clearly that they don't want fluoride in the water. I commend the councillors who voted against it. This is not over."
Mr Freeman said that despite the outcome, he wanted to offer his sincere gratitude to all Oberon Council staff, particularly general manager Gary Wallace, Sharon Swannell and Lynette Safranek, who he said had worked behind the scenes to sort out what must have been a tsunami of conflicting data.
"I can appreciate the many hours of work that went into last [Tuesday] night's culmination,” he said. “Truth will prevail. The next chapter begins."