Sunday, December 22, 2013
A FAN Update Plus a Report on Australia by Dr. Paul Connett -
December 20, 2013
Report from Australia 2013. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Introduction by Paul Connett
I have been to Australia at least eight times (3 times for waste issues and 5 for fluoridation). With respect to fluoridation it has been both an exciting and depressing series of experiences. On the one hand I have worked with some fantastic activists there including in the state of Victoria, Philip, David, Elaine, Genevieve, Gillian, Daniel and Jaya, in Queensland, Merilyn, Bob, Jeanie, Dr John R, Peter, Glenda, Colin, Bill, Ailsa and Jason, in South Australia, Dr. Andrew H, Anne and Darryl, in Western Australia, James, Anne and Derek, and in NSW, Dr. Mark D, Dr. John L, Dr. Caree A, Lisa, Sylvia, Ilga, Al and Amanda. That is the exciting part. These people are struggling among other things to keep democracy alive in this country.
The depressing part of my experience on fluoridation in Australia is twofold: the behavior of the public health bureaucracies in the various states (bad) and the media (ugly).
The public health bureaucrats
If the public health bureaucrats that promote fluoridation in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and US are irresponsible, those in the States of NSW, Queensland and Victoria simply take one’s breath away. They range from Chief Health Officers in Victoria like Dr. Carnie, who literally told communities there that they were going to get fluoridation whether they wanted it or not, to the faceless bureaucrats in Queensland's previous government whose propaganda in 2007 in support of the push for state mandatory fluoridation there would have made Edward Bernays blush. Just look at this photo-montage of what children’s teeth look like when comparing those who have been exposed to fluoridated water and those that haven’t. This was part of a leaflet that was distributed to MPs before they voted in mandatory fluoridation in 2008.
Remember this was not put together by some group of pro-fluoridation dentists organized by the Pew Foundation or the ADA, this was put together by civil servants being paid by the Queensland taxpayers. The latter probably believed - in their innocence - that these people were there to provide objective and scientifically correct information to decision makers!
The Australian media
The media in Australia is largely run by the Murdoch empire. Their editors appear to ape the words provided to them by the PR operatives working for the fluoridation promoters and are downright nasty to boot. Take the case of the town of Lismore in NSW. Partially influenced by the long stream of communities halting fluoridation in Queensland to the North (see the report below), this town’s council wisely voted not to proceed with fluoridation. Immediately the Murdoch press went after these councillors with a vengeance in a campaign they titled “Stop the Rot.” In one of the big state newspapers they printed the pictures of each of the members of the Lismore council who had voted NO to fluoridation with the headline, “These are the people who condemned kids to tooth decay” (see picture below). That along with statements from government and party officials quickly forced the councillors to back-off and you can see below the final outcome.
I got a first hand view of the unscrupulous tactics of this newspaper. I received an email from one of the journalists seeking “objective information” on the debate. I provided him with a pdf copy of my book, a pdf of summaries of each chapter and fairly lengthy explanation warning him about how the promoters of fluoridation claim that all the science is on their side and that opponents were emotional and unscientific. So what does he do? He cites nothing from the material I sent him and used a headline that was derogatory of opponents.
Now back to some better news. Here is a report from FAN Australia for 2013.
AUSTRALIAN ROUNDUP 2013
Australia was a mixed bag for fluoridation in 2013. At the very end of 2012 the newish Queensland State government overturned the previous government’s mandatory fluoridation legislation. The year started very well with Cairns Regional Council rejecting fluoridation largely on the grounds of fluoridation being unethical mass medication.
In the last 12 months in Queensland 17 Councils have rejected fluoridation either ending, or voting not to start fluoridation, with some councils even voting not to use fluoridation plants which were almost completed. Some of the councils are Regional Councils that include up to 5 towns. There are now more than 35 towns in Queensland that are free of fluoridation.
Unfortunately, Queensland’s capital Brisbane is still fluoridated because within days of mandatory fluoridation being overturned, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor, without any consultation at all with his fellow Councillors or neighbouring councils, declared that fluoridation was staying in Brisbane. The Lord Mayor cited endorsements from the Australian Dental and Medical Associations and the WHO as his justification when refusing the people of Brisbane a Referendum. A water grid in South East Queensland is another complication to ending fluoridation.
As fluoridation is no longer mandatory, it is possible for Queensland councils to end fluoridation without the permission of the state government. An 18th Qld Council, Cook Shire Council has recently voted to keep fluoridating but to have a Referendum with the next Council election. Mount Isa Council earlier in 2013 had held a Referendum with 89 % of voters voting NO Fluoride. Mount Isa Councillors then voted to abandon fluoridation and not use the nearly complete plant.
Just over the border in New South Wales fluoridation became a very hot topic when Lismore Councillors in August voted to not fluoridate. The Australian Murdoch media then worked themselves into a frenzy, even having a name and shame campaign of Councillors who had voted against fluoridation. The Murdoch media also started an intensive campaign to get the NSW govt to force fluoridation on any unfluoridated NSW Council. Both the NSW government and Opposition party however shied away from this move, even though the Opposition could have forced it through when they obtained support from the Fishers and Shooters Party MPs.
After the personal attack campaign by the Murdoch media Ballina Council voted to fluoridate, however Byron Council voted to maintain their fluoridation free status. Byron Council also voted to ask NSW Health to provide a prenatal and post natal oral health education programme, similar to an extremely successful programme trialled by the University of Queensland in a low socio-economic area which reduced tooth decay in 2 year olds from a community rate of 23 % down to 2 to 7 %.
Unfortunately some of the Lismore Councillors wouldn’t take Byron Council’s wise decision as their guidance and on the 3rd December voted 6 to 5 to force fluoridation on Lismore residents. Two of the six Pro-fluoride Lismore Councillors were mute during the debate, but voted to force fluoridation anyway. Another Pro- fluoride councillor stated that she believed NSW Health and she believed fluoridation was safe at 1ppm stating that the USA fluoridated at 4 ppm! As all Lismore Councillors had been provided voluminous scientific information, for this Councillor to still believe that the USA fluoridated at 4 ppm illustrated her - and several other Pro- fluoride Councillors - lack of understanding but their willingness to trust Pro- fluoride authorities.
Lismore Council had previously held a Referendum on Coal Seam Gas with 87 % of voters rejecting CSG activities within the Lismore Council area. However the Pro – fluoride Lismore Mayor was not interested in allowing a Referendum on Fluoridation. The five Lismore councillors who voted against forced fluoridation gave intelligent and informed reasons for doing so, citing: the issues of no control over dose, the violation of both informed consent and the Precautionary Principle.
The very informed Byron Councillors and the five very informed Lismore Councillors who voted No to forced fluoridation are an inspiration and give us some hope of a fluoride free Australia in the future, despite the recent NSW setbacks with Ballina and Lismore.