Flu­o­ride in court

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Char­lie McKil­lop gazette@tpd.newsltd.com.au

MUCH of its time is de­voted to in­ves­ti­gat­ing vi­o­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional law, up­hold­ing whal­ing con­ven­tions and re­solv­ing mar­itime bound­ary dis­putes but if a group of Port Dou­glas res­i­dents has its way, the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice (ICJ) could soon be called on to stop the com­pul­sory flu­o­ridi­s­a­tion of the lo­cal wa­ter sup­ply.

A Cairns so­lic­i­tor is work­ing with lo­cal res­i­dents to pre­pare a brief to launch a “land­mark case” in the ICJ, also known as the World Court.

Res­i­dents will ar­gue the re­quire­ment of the State’s wa­ter flu­o­ridi­s­a­tion reg­u­la­tion con­sti­tutes a breach of their hu­man rights.

Al­ready, a tem­po­rary re­prieve has been se­cured as the Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil de­lays its planned in­tro­duc­tion of flu­o­ride into the Moss­man and Whyan­beel wa­ter sup­plies which was to have be­gun yes­ter­day.

The coun­cil has asked Queens­land Premier Anna Bligh to de­fer for two years flu­o­ride be­ing added to drink­ing wa­ter pend­ing the out­come of fu­ture court pro­ceed­ings.

Di­vi­sion 10 councillor Ju­lia Leu has de­fended the right of cit­i­zens to ex­haust “ev­ery le­gal av­enue avail­able to them” in­clud­ing an ap­peal to the ICJ.

“There is a lot of in­ter­est from within the Dou­glas com­mu­nity and be­yond in the out­come of what will be a land­mark case,” Cr Leu said.

Friends of Dou­glas Shire rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michael Gabour said he sup­ported the push to bring the mat­ter be­fore the ICJ al­though he was not a party to it.

He said flu­o­ridi­s­a­tion may pale in com­par­i­son to the scale and grav­ity of hu­man rights breaches such as geno­cide and other crimes against hu­man­ity usu­ally dealt with in in­ter­na­tional ju­ris­dic­tions but that did not mean it was “mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive”.

“There is an is­sue of hu­man rights at stake here, it’s a gen­uine case of pol­icy with­out con­sent which I be­lieve should be tested in the courts where the is­sues can be prop­erly aired and ad­ju­di­cated,” he said.

Mr Gabour said while ever an “open ques­tion mark” ex­isted about the safety of flu­o­ride, the de­ci­sion about whether it should be in­cluded in drink­ing wa­ter should be left to per­sonal choice.

“It’s a case of peo­ple need­ing to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own health - not mass med­i­ca­tion by the state. If peo­ple want bet­ter den­tal health, there’s plenty of tooth­paste avail­able with­out adding flu­o­ride to our wa­ter,” he said.

But Port Dou­glas den­tist Les Krasso­vich said no­body would ever make such an ar­gu­ment if they had wit­nessed or ex­pe­ri­enced the phys­i­cal or emo­tional im­pact of den­tal caries, or tooth de­cay, on young chil­dren.

Dr Krasso­vich said it was a pro­ce­dure he had never needed to per­form on a child un­der five prior to mov­ing to Port Dou­glas 17 years ago from South Aus­tralia.

“I am not a sci­en­tist,” Dr Krasso­vich said.

“I can only make com­ment based on my own clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence.”

“I see the ef­fects ev­ery day and it’s the hard­est thing a den­tist has to do, to ad­min­is­ter anaes­thetic for the first time to a child and op­er­ate on them to per­form, in many cases, mul­ti­ple ex­trac­tions.”

Dr Krasso­vich said flu­o­ri­da­tion by it­self was not a “panacea” but was part of a so­lu­tion which also re­quired bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion about den­tal hy­giene and nutrition.

The Gazette has been made aware of nu­mer­ous re­ports which claim flu­o­ride is known to have caused sig­nif­i­cant, neg­a­tive health im­pacts in­clud­ing joint stiff­ness and pain, bone can­cer, hip frac­tures, thy­roid func­tion and even low­er­ing in­tel­li­gence lev­els in chil­dren.

How­ever, Queens­land Health has in­di­cated nu­mer­ous stud­ies and re­views have con­firmed the safety and ef­fec­tive­ness of flu­o­ri­da­tion.

Chief den­tal of­fi­cer Dr Rhys Thomas said “many myths and false­hoods” had been cir­cu­lated in the com­mu­nity de­spite wa­ter flu­o­ri­da­tion be­ing en­dorsed by more than 150 ma­jor health or­gan­i­sa­tions around the world.

Dr Thomas said Queens­lan­ders had the high­est level of tooth de­cay in Aus­tralia and the low­est level of ac­cess to wa­ter flu­o­ri­da­tion.

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