Tempers flare over fluoride debate
The complimentary water jug remained untouched as antifluoride campaigners bared their teeth at a Porirua City Council meeting last Tuesday.
Members of Fluoride Action Network, a group committed to removing fluoride from the water supply, arrived at the council’s draft annual plan meeting to argue their case.
Nearly a third of the 52 submissions about the annual plan were from people opposed to fluoridisation. Porirua is one of 23 councils that fluoridates its water.
The meeting took on a combative tone, as councillors questioned members of the group.
Julie Buckley said her son had suffered serious health problems related to fluoride.
Asked if she would support a referendum, Buckley said no.
‘‘The principle of democracy is only OK if they agree with my view. That’s what it sounds like to me,’’ mayor Nick Leggett said.
A campaigner sitting in the gallery said Leggett’s statement was ‘‘outrageously rude’’.
Anti- fluoride campaigner Mary Byrne was also not in favour of a public vote on the issue.
‘‘I don’t think it’s an appropriate issue for a referendum, because we don’t put most issues out to referendum,’’ she said.
‘‘There’s no other medicine we would put out to a referendum.’’
Leggett took on the campaigners.
‘‘So you think a few people can come here to submit and do what you want, but you don’t want the wider population to have their say,’’ he said.
That provoked a campaigner in the gallery to shout at Leggett.
‘‘Can you control the gallery, for goodness sake. I’m allowed to ask questions,’’ Leggett said to Denys Latham, who was chairing the meeting.
Campaigner Shaun O’Brien used his 10-minute slot to show an anti- fluoride video, which councillor John Burke described as ‘‘inappropriate’’.
‘‘I’m not very good at debating,’’ O’Brien said, after trying to defer the councillors’ questions.
Tough job: Denys Latham chaired the lively meeting.