Page 257 - Week 01 - Thursday, 14 February 1991

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Thursday, 14 February 1991


MR SPEAKER (Mr Prowse) took the chair at 10.30 am and read the prayer.


MR HUMPHRIES (Minister for Health, Education and the Arts) (10.31): Mr Speaker, I present the Water Supply (Chemical Treatment) (Amendment) Bill 1990. I move:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Last year in the Assembly the Standing Committee on Social Policy sought to have the reporting date on the fluoride inquiry extended, to allow it to take into account the view of Australia's foremost medical research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council. The council at that stage was awaiting an evaluation by the United States national toxicology program of a recent study on chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity of sodium fluoride. The USA study is still unavailable, and the council has issued an interim report which has been considered by the Standing Committee on Social Policy. The Assembly quite properly agreed to this request, and the reporting date was extended from 31 May 1990 to 29 November 1990. On 29 November 1990 a further extension was granted until the Assembly's first sitting day in 1991.

Over the past two years the issue of fluoridation of the ACT water supply has been hotly debated by the Assembly, and the decision to remove fluoride without reasonable consultation and proper investigation created an adverse public response. For this reason the Chief Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, introduced the Water Supply (Chemical Treatment) (Amendment) Bill, to allow fluoridation to be reintroduced until the matter had been fully investigated by the standing committee and the Assembly had received and responded to the report.

This legislation was passed on 18 October 1989. It acted to suspend part VIIIA of the earlier Electricity and Water Act, which was itself passed on 27 September 1989, to prohibit the addition of fluoride to the water supply. The suspension applied until 28 February 1991. A situation now exists that will result in fluoridation of the water supply ceasing from 28 February 1991, unless this Assembly further amends the legislation passed on 18 October 1989.

The community has already made it clear that it feels strongly about the need for proper consideration of this issue, prior to a final decision. The Standing Committee

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