Fluoride infrastructure to be paid for by State Government
THE State Government doesn't want the cost of putting fluoride in drinking water to prevent remote communities from getting it.
And as such Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced she will reintroduce a program to subsidise the costs of putting in the necessary infrastructure to add it to water supplies in remote towns across Queensland.
"I don't want the infrastructure costs associated with fluoridating water to be a barrier for councils when considering its introduction," Ms Palaszczuk told the Local Government Association of Queensland at a conference this afternoon.
"The Newman Government not only left the decision-making on fluoride to local government, but they left the financial burden to local government as well.
"When the former assistance program was cut, there were numerous councils, including many Indigenous councils, which never had the opportunity to take-up the capital works funding."
In July this year Gladstone Regional Council voted to remove fluoride from its water supply, a move which was followed by Mackay Regional Council in September.
Before that Fraser Coast Regional Council got rid of fluoride in 2013 and Cairns, Bundaberg, Tablelands, Burdekin and Doomadgee had all done away with it by that point.
During the heated public debate which led to many of these councils making the decision to remove fluoride the cost of adding it was cited - although it was not the only argument.
However, while such grants would pay for the infrastructure needed to add fluoride to the water, it would not cover the ongoing costs associated with it.
In New South Wales the decision on whether or not fluoride is included in the drinking water rests with the state government - not local councils.
The vast majority of water supplies in NSW are fluoridated.
"My Government will look at re-introducing a similar grants program to fund the initial capital works costs for introducing fluoridated water," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"In the near future, we will finalise the structure of the grants program and consult with interested councils,"
"The program will be capped, with priority given to smaller councils with limited financial capacity to shoulder these costs themselves."
"Personally, I'm a strong supporter of water fluoridation and the health benefits that come with it.
"My message to Councils is, if you make the decision to introduce fluoride into your drinking water, we will help you pay for the upfront costs - that is my commitment."