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Greymouth Campaign Information
The Votes are in: Referendum vote : 72% against fluoridation!
So much for the DHB advertising “most West Coasters support fluoridation”
Sterling work by local residents saw the Council agree to a referendum, after concerns over the way the issue was bulldozed through.
On a limited budget, people and the truth have again triumphed over the lies spread by the DHB and Ministry of Health. The DHB has said it will have to reconsider pushing for fluoridation in Westport, following the turnaround in Greymouth.
Congratulations to all those who worked for this. The score still stands: the people 100%; DHBs NIL !
Subversion in Greymouth
The West Coast DHB worked subversively behind the scenes to persuade the Grey District Council to commit to fluoridation without hearing the opposing view. They orchestrated a takeover of the submission process, and lodged fraudulent submissions, derived from a “postcard campaign” that began in December 2004. The Grey District Council voted 5:4 in favour of fluoridation, but a number of Councillors were concerned they were misled by a slick campaign by the DHB, that did not disclose all the facts. Greymouth residents immediately launched a counter-campaign against the decision. (Most councillors who voted in favour of fluordation are not, themselves, in the fluoridated area).
FAN(NZ) has lodged formal complaints (below), as have Greymouth residents. The complaints describe the situation fully.
Complaints to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board
The use of the skull and cross bones symbol has been given the OK following appeal of the ASCB’s decision against it.
The ASCB refused to uphold any of the complaints about the proven lies in the DHB advertisements. This is currently under appeal.
Submission to the Office of the Ombudsmen
Grey District Council handing of the issue of water fluoridation.
We submit that there are so many irregularities with the process followed by the Grey Council regarding the “consultation” process that its decision to fluoridate Greymouth’s public water supply is ultra vires and should be rescinded, with a full and proper consultation process to be undertaken, under external supervision.
- Denial of right to be heard.
FAN(NZ) made a written submission and asked to make oral submissions. In addition we asked an equitable amount of time in relation to the DHB’s lobbying time. We were not allocated speaking time. FAN(NZ) was only alerted to its exclusion from oral submissions on Sunday 8 May, the day before the hearings, by another submitter.
On the Monday 9 May I spoke with the CEO, who first claimed our letter was unclear on this point. I was adamant that it was perfectly clear we wanted to speak.
I further advised that we could not get anyone to Greymouth at such short notice, and that his offer to make a 10 minute slot that evening was inadequate as :
- We could not get anyone to Greymouth at such short notice;
- 10 minutes compared with the 2 hours total time afforded to the WCDHB was inequitable.
I therefore repeated my request for adequate time to provide the Council with the information it is obliged to consider in its decisionmaking.
The CEO acknowledged we had made it clear we wanted to speak in his letter (attached) yet told the Council meeting that I had agreed it was unclear, and had waived our right to speak.
- The Council knowingly accepted and was influenced by fraudulent submissions from the WCDHB
The Council knew the bulk “submissions” lodged by the DHB on or after the closing date were fraudulent as:
- the handwriting was the same on all;
- they were unsigned;
- they were lodged in bulk by the DHB;
- two of the individuals lodged their own submissions.
Further, the cards had been collected outside the one month submission period. Respondents may have changed their minds in the interim.
In contrast, the bulk of genuine public submissions were against fluoridation.
- The measure appears strongly to have been predetermined by a segment of the Grey Council, and rushed through without Councillors having adequate time to properly consider the matter, or adequate public consultation to take place. Local advice is that the Grey District Council had announced its intention to fluoridate before the public “consultation” process began. There was insufficient time for Councillors to absorb let alone analyse the information submitted, and they were not given the opportunity to hear a professional presentation of the opposing view. Councillors were given 1,200 pages of submissions on the preceding Wednesday with the oral hearings on the following Monday. Even if Councillors did nothing else they could not have adequately read let alone digested this amount of material.One Councillor only returned on the Monday morning, with the normal Council meeting beginning at 4 pm. It is not possible that this Councillor could have read all the material.In spite of this inadequate time, Councillors were required to make a snap decision immediately after the oral presentations, with no opportunity for analysis, reflection, or discussion. In discussion with me, the CEO claimed that the oral presentations would have little impact in comparison with the written material (which there was inadequate time to absorb). The statements of Councillors after the vote belies his claim.
- The notice was grossly inadequate to properly air such a vast and controversial subject. There was insufficient public consultation to meet the consultation requirements of the Local Government Act The public notice was posted on Easter Saturday. The submission period included two weeks of school holidays;No public debate or information dissemination, on both sides of the issue, was attempted by the Council.The Grey Star, 50% owned by the Greymouth Mayor, refused to publish any arguments or information other than the paid (false) advertisements placed by the WCDHB and brief letters to the Editor. (In spite of public outrage, the Star refuses to publish anything further on the matter).
- Councillors were denied adequate opportunity to hear adequate “relevant information” on the issue, therefore could not consider “all relevant matters”. FAN(NZ) was denied any opportunity to present scientific factual information to the Council, to balance the time afforded the WCDHB to present its case. We had asked for an “equitable” amount of time.The DHB was afforded an hour outside the submission process to address Councillors. The CEO insists that this was not a presentation to “the Council” but only to “Councillors”. I submit the distinction is meaningless in the context.The DHB also manipulated the oral submission process by having 6 individuals lodge written submissions and seek speaking time. The 60 minutes was an orchestrated presentation from the DHB, delivered in the names of 6 individuals. Whilst this is legal, we consider that to rush through a decision on the night was inappropriate and that the opposing view should have been made available to the Council, as offered by our organisation, in the interests of natural justice.
- Councillors considered “irrelevant matters” in reaching conclusions in favour of fluoridation
One Councillor voted for fluoridation on the basis that “health professionals are the experts on this subject.” I am advised that in fact a number of Councillors were swayed by the slick DHB presentation on the night, without looking beyond that to the actual facts.
In fact health professionals in NZ are not expert on this issue: they simply parrot what they have been taught, but do not research the matter independently. In particular, those present were paid to promote a political policy position of the Government, as acknowledged by the State Services Commission and the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General. Moreover, many health professional oppose fluoridation. For example:
- The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxiciology (Doctors and dentists);
- 1000 health professionals in Ireland have formed a group opposing fluoridation;
- 1500 doctors, dentists, and scientists have put their names to a document opposing fluoridation in Australia;
- Dr Hardy Limeback – head of preventive dentistry, Toronto University (who taught the “company line” on fluoridation for 15 years before discovering the truth);
- The late Dr John Colquhoun, who headed the Fluoridation implementation committee for the Health Department, became a vocal NZ opponent once he investigated the matter independently (an was forced into early retirement for speaking the truth about it);
- A number of Nobel laureates (medicine) publicly oppose fluoridation.
Another voted for fluoridation on the weight of the “professional and polished presentation” of the DHB representatives.
The relevant consideration is the information, not the presentation. Although it is unavoidable that the coherence of presentation will affect the credibility of the information, public officials must be on guard when hearing addresses from the lay public on one hand, and a co-ordinated presentation by paid promoters on the other.
This is all the more reason why natural justice required that Councillors have the opportunity to receive such a “professional and polished presentation” of the opposing viewpoint from FAN(NZ) as we requested.
Only such an action would discharge the Council’s obligations to consider all relevant matters, and to meet the wider natural justice provisions of section 27 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990.
We therefore seek, and have the support of a number of Councillors, to have the Council’s decision stayed, and for proper public consultation to take place as required by the Local Government Act, and for Councillors to have adequate opportunity to hear and analyse all relevant considerations on this highly controversial issue. We also seek a process consistent with establish principles of administrative law, in particular natural justice, as also provided in section 27 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990.
Submission to the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General and the State Services Commission
I write regarding both improper activities of the West Coast District Health Board, including production of fraudulent “submissions” to the annual District Plan, and the Board’s additional misuse of public funds by way of placing false and/or misleading advertisements in the Greymouth Star newspaper, in relation to the activities promoting water fluoridation in Greymouth.
The State Services Commission has ruled against “lobbying” by NGOs using public funds. This was particularly in relation to the health sector. The Ministry of Health “defined” “lobbying” as restricted to lobbying members of Parliament, which is narrower than the dictionary definition that refers to “legislators”. We would consider Council decisions affecting ratepayers to fall within the scope of “legislating” and the SSC’s apparent policy intent. We acknowledge there is a legitimate role in public health advocacy for DHBs, however the actions we refer to go well beyond that legitimate scope.
Firstly, The DHB lodged fraudulent submissions to the Grey District Council.
From December 2004 it distributed “survey cards” with leading questions, and an authority to “use [the person’s] name in connection with fluoridation”;
Many were placed in doctors’ rooms etc. to give an air of “authority” to them. DHB representatives also circulated bars and obtained signatures from patrons.
They then had a DHB staff member (Melany Penny we understand) hand write “submissions” by copying the text from the ticked boxes and place the respondent’s name at the bottom.
They then lodged these with the Council as submissions, without the knowledge or consent of the respondents, two of whom lodged their own submissions.
We submit that whoever orchestrated this fraud (we are advised it is the new CEO) should be removed from office, for obvious reasons.
Secondly, the WCDHB has expended public funds placing false and/or misleading advertisement in the Greymouth Evening Star (enclosed).
The falsity of the Mythbusters advertisements is attached.
The misleading nature of the most recent advertisement, attempting to create the false impression that all “respectable” organisations support fluoridation and only fringe organisations oppose it is part of a “character assassination” campaign clearly evident during the DHB’s lobbying campaign. In fact the Ministry of Health (along with the York Review) acknowledge that reputable scientist oppose fluoridation and there is legitimate scientific controversy over the issue (see attached OIA response.)
The US EPA Union of Scientists (who do the actual research)
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxiciology (Doctors and dentists)
1000 health professionals in Ireland have formed a group opposing fluoridation
1500 doctors, dentists, and scientists have put their names to a document opposing fluoridation in Australia
Dr Hardy Limeback – head of preventive dentistry, Toronto University (who taught the “company line” on fluoridation for 15 years before discovering the truth)
A number of Nobel laureates (medicine) publicly oppose fluoridation.
These advertisements breach the Advertising Standard Authority Code.
We submit that the following are beyond legitimate advocacy:
- Embarking on a “post card” campaign to rally public support without full disclosure;
- Lodging fraudulent submissions
- Manipulating the oral submission process by orchestrating individual DHB members, and others outside the Greymouth area to lodge individual submissions and seek speaking time in order to present a one hour DHB presentation in segments. (This is being repeated in Hokitika, with last minute “submissions”).
- Launching character assassinations against any who present an opposing view
These tactics will continue to be used by DHBs up and down New Zealand unless properly addressed. This is because such tactics are not only part of a longstanding approach by promoters, but are currently co-ordinated as a national campaign by the Hutt Valley DHB under a contract with the Ministry of Health, which has already been brought to the attention of the State Services Commission and the Audit Office.
We seek a directive that the use of public funds for the following activities is unacceptable, and that DHBs or other government agencies or NGOs involved in fluoridation promotion be prohibited from engaging in them:
- Placing false or misleading advertisements, in particular –
- Any advertisement suggesting that those who oppose fluoridation are of any less scientific, intellectual, or ethical standing than those who promote it;
- Denying that there is legitimate scientific controversy over effectiveness or safety;
- Denying that fluoridation has been banned or is illegal in other countries
- Claiming that the York Review supported fluoridation, or stating that it found no proof of harm without also stating with equal weight tat it found no proof of safety;
- Any portrayal of opponents as cranks, or any character assassinations of them.
- Lodging submissions to Councils other than in the name of the DHB, and without personal signatures of the alleged submitter
We also ask, in furtherance of not using public funds, including payment of salaries, to mislead the public –
Require that any public reference, or reference in presentation to Councils, to the York Review to state that it held that studies were of too poor a quality to be reliable and that legitimate scientific controversy remains over claimed safety and effectiveness.