Letter | Community harmony at stake in fluoride decision

THERE appears to be a misconception that there are only the “yes or no” groups involved in the current fluoride debate when there are in fact at least four groups, with a fifth starting to develop.

On the “no” side, there are those who oppose fluoride “per se” and the significantly larger group who oppose using water as a transfer or delivery vehicle for fluoride.

This objection is based on the fact that it does not comply with the two treatment or medication guidelines which require that recipients must give approval and that medication must be able to be measured and the volume controlled.

On the “yes” side, the major group are those who are genuinely concerned about providing protection for every child and have an opinion that the majority opposing group should put aside their concerns and give up their democratic right of refusal to forced treatment based on the benefit of what they see as being “for the wider good of the community”.

As there is still no agreement between the respective qualified experts on both sides as to the benefits or dangers of using a water delivery method, the “no” side are more than reluctant to accept this proposal.

In addition, it is considered that it is an outdated method being superseded by others such as toothpaste, dental treatment, etc, combined with improved understanding of the necessity for dental hygiene and diet control.

The fourth group can be found on the extreme pro water fluoridation side and despite being by far the smallest sector, they are, in my opinion, the most dangerous and damaging in regards to community harmony and our town’s reputation.

The manner in which they are prosecuting their cause is not consistent with our traditional community integrity, values and respect for the opinions of others.

If you believed their comments, which unfortunately are repeated by the media and by some of their group on Facebook, you would think that Oberon is made up of a non-caring population which as a result has children with bad breath, rotten teeth, or no teeth after having them removed under sedation.

They spread this information to a wider, non-involved audience, pleading for support to assist them in overcoming the uncaring Oberon adult locals.

This incorrect information quotes sources that have supposedly 40 years’ experience with child dental problems in Oberon.

They are overlooking the fact that no locals I’ve spoken to have ever heard of them or the extensive service that they are supposedly required to provide.

These people should be ashamed of themselves. How dare they trash our community and why?

They must think they are so clever and we are so dumb and uneducated that we need them to tell us what our opinion should be.

This approach has resulted in the creation of the fifth group. This group are those who are angered by these actions which bring the town into disrepute and also have a belief that it does not reflect well on the current council or in the manner that they have handled the issue. They also believe the council has failed to address the derogatory misinformation which has been repeated in the outside media as being a fact.

When the issue has been raised on previous occasions, the council, at the time, did not allow ongoing debate and continual restatement of the various conflicting opinions, realising that any decision to change would be their opinion only and they therefore voted to maintain the status quo in the interest of community harmony.

The current elected council, or at least four of their number, appear from the outset to have a different approach and seem determined to force their opinion upon the wider community. 

Since the time the subject was originally raised, there has been a rumour attributed to those who move in the same circles that these four councillors would support the “yes” vote.

More recently, the rumour has changed to being that fluoride will be passed by a five to four vote.

Although this is only a rumour, the actions of these four councillors have done nothing during the process to suggest that they are an untrue belief, even appearing at times to be creating a diversion and extending the matter when it looked like going to a vote without them having the required number.

Imagine what this would do to community harmony if it was approved and the anger that it would create, particularly within those sections of the community who already believe that some should be asked for their resignations right now.

Not only do I believe that some of the elected members are not acting in a manner which is consistent with their role but the whole body of council is asking the wrong questions.

The first question should be to themselves as to whether they are acting in the manner which is worthy of all the effort that went into saving our own independent council?

In doing so, it should be taken into consideration that it was the actions, integrity culture and interaction manner of previous councils we wished to retain, not what is trying to be delivered to us by some currently.

If they get the first question right, they should be allowed to stop acting on conflicting advice and opinion, accepting that water fluoridation will never be introduced other than in an ongoing atmosphere of dispute.

There are then only two questions that need to be answered, being; 

Does Oberon have a dental health problem and to what extent?

If so, what is the best means of delivering care into all areas of the local government area to overcome the problem?

Keith Sullivan