Hamilton: Ignorance wins over science

Pat McNair, co-ordinator for Fluoride Free Hamilton is shocked at Thursday’s 9 -1 decision to re-fluoridate Hamilton’s water supply. “The Hamilton City Council has now made a complete mockery of its own tribunal process, which was so well conducted last year,” she said.

“At the time of the tribunal, the Council did not just vote fluoride out, but it published its findings and its main reasons in the free City News flyer which was posted to every household in Hamilton in June 2013. These reasons included:

- Toothpaste is much more effective than fluoridation of water supplies.

- 99% of household water goes down the drain.

- Communities around the world are rejecting it – most of Europe does not fluoridate.

- There is strong evidence that fluoride should not be ingested at all by babies under six months old and bottle-fed babies are therefore at greater potential risk.

- While fluoridation may have some benefits for some, it isn’t good for everyone and fluoridation of the water supply affects personal choice.

- It is cheaper for people to get fluoride as needed, and in an effective manner, than it is for people to avoid it from the public water supply.

- There is statistical evidence that fluoridation potentially causes harm.”

Ms McNair angrily challenged the councillors at Thursday’s council meeting to explain to her how they now proposed to tell the public that these reasons had become invalid and that they would now be disregarding them, without expecting challenges or ridicule as a result.

“I see an analogy here – this is like a court finding a criminal guilty, based on damning evidence. Suddenly there is a huge public outcry lead by the media. Misinformation spreads like wildfire. The media publishes an opinion poll. The public is invited to decide – guilty or not. None of the evidence presented at the original trial is divulged to the public. The popular vote is overwhelmingly “not guilty” so the criminal is immediately released.”

“Does our legal system work like this? Of course not – but this is just what has happened in Hamilton.”

Hamilton: Fluoride vote may face judicial review
Hamilton city councillors voted 9 to 1 to resume fluoridation. Treating the water was stopped in June last year, but a referendum was overwhelmingly in favour of its return.

The council was due to vote on the matter last year, but that was delayed while it waited for a High Court decision on a challenge to councils’ legal right to fluoridate water. The challenge, in New Plymouth, was thrown out.

The Dental Association and the Waikato District Health Board support fluoridation but the group Safe Water Alternative New Zealand is not happy with the decision and says it will seek a judicial review, as signalled last month.

Co-ordinator Trevor Crosbie said the council had breached the Local Government Act and further consultation should have happened before voting to reintroduce fluoride. He said he would be speaking with his lawyer in the next few days.

Fluoride Action Network spokesperson Mary Byrne supports the judicial review. She said people are uneducated about the dangers of fluoride and the councillors had not done their job in informing people about all the facts.

Waikato District Health Board spent about $47,000 on a pro-fluoride campaign – $8000 of that on billboards and banners.

Communications director Mary Ann Gill welcomed the council’s decision and said the sooner water fluoridation was resumed for children’s oral health, the better.

But she said it was unfortunate the DHB had had to spend so much time and effort on the referendum when there were other major challenges. These included “the return of diseases such as measles, whooping cough and hepatitis B, which should have been eradicated in my lifetime with the benefit of immunisation.”

Ms Gill said it would be unfortunate if a judicial review did go ahead, as more taxpayer money would have to be spent.

Hamilton Mayor Julia Hardaker says she was aware of the possible judicial review. “Councils across New Zealand are going through the same process as Hamilton has been through and I expect it isn’t fully over yet,” she said.

“I continue to believe this is a matter for the Government and the Government should make a decision for New Zealand on this issue.”