GEELONG voters had every right to feel dudded by the Bracks Labor Government this week when it announced water bills would double.
Residents can also add to their frustrations the Government’s decision to pump fluoride into local water under its plan to increase the city’s supplies 50 per cent.
Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville faced the media with Barwon Water officials this week, brushing off questions about fluoride in our water.
Ms Neville, also Minister for Children, Aged Care and Mental Health, waved off a series of questions about fluoride at the press conference, claiming it was a health issue, not a water issue, so health officials would need to talk with the community about the chemical.
Hello, Lisa, not a water issue?
So how does State Government intend to inject fluoride into Geelong residents if not through the water system?
It was an offensive brushoff that smacked of arrogance.
The very same arrogance, if not hypocrisy, duly noted this week when State Government announced it would build a $3.1 billion desalination plant not more than six months after rubbishing State Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu for proposing the same before the last state election.
Ms Neville and other local state MPs, like Michael Crutchfield and John Eren who attended the announcement but didn’t field questions, should address the matter publicly at the first available opportunity given the significant debate sparked every time the word fluoride is mentioned in Geelong.
The Labor party didn’t discuss fluoride at the last election, nor did it say bills would go up to secure more drinking water.
There’s been no discussion whether the Government stands by a previous stance to introduce fluoride only after community consultation.
But, then again, Government consultation doesn’t mean voters get a chance to say no.
It’s more about reeducation that fluoride IS good for all of you. That’s why Ms Neville said health officials would need to “talk with” the community about fluoride.
It gets back to earlier concerns about the appointment earlier this year to Barwon Water’s board of the chief of an organisation that promotes fluoride.
The latest, laughable, statement from the Government’s chief health officer and others is that fluoride is a human right.
This statement blows any chance of independent consultation out of the water.
Surely, to have access to clean, untampered drinking water is a human right – one that many thirdworld countries and even parts of rural Australia don’t enjoy.
Perhaps ending fluoridation could ease the hippocket pain residents will bear when water bills rise.
Our local MPs lined up to have their photos taken drinking water to toast this week’s announcement.
But before the election they didn’t dip their toes into the electoral waters to consider Geelong’s opinions on fluoride or desalination before being a part of a Government making a decision to connect the city to Melbourne’s water system.
On the matter of desalination, it’s something for which State Government should be applauded.
It’s a practical solution to a problem that won’t go away – supplying Melbourne’s vast urban sprawl without taking more water from country irrigators.
Unfortunately, the Government also plans to do the latter.
For the Labor party, it kills two birds with one stone – fixes the water problem and gets fluoride into Geelong residents.