The Mandatory Fluoridation Bill
Legislation was introduced to Parliament on the 17th November 2016 to remove control and decision making from local councils to a centralised entity and passed into law on the 16th November 2021
On the 27th of July 2022 Ashley Bloomfield in his last week as Director General of Health, sent a letter to 14 councils directing them to start fluoridation. This is despite Information received under the Official Information Act showing that (as at the 5th of July) the Director General had not completed, or indeed appears to have even undertaken, any of the legislative requirements.
The Councils were:
Auckland, Hastings, Horowhenua, Kawerau, Nelson, New Plymouth, Rotorua Lakes, Tararua, Tauranga City, Waipa, Waitaki, Western Bay of Plenty, Far North and Whangārei councils will have between six months and over three years, depending on the circumstances, to fluoridate parts of their water supply that were not already fluoridated.
In Auckland, to fluoridate Onehunga. Waipa to fluoridate Cambridge. Far North to fluoridate Kerikeri and Kaitaia.
Press Release 21st June 2022 Government dictates to communities again
On the 15th of November the Mandatory Fluoridation Bill was passed into law.
See Part 5A Fluoridation of Drinking Water of the Heath Act 1956
This Bill was originally introduced by the National Government to shift decision making from the local councils to the District Health Boards. The Bill was designed to remove input from the local communities and ensure fluoridation is introduced in all areas of New Zealand.
In 2020 the Labour Government introduced a Supplementary Order paper to shift decision making solely to the Director General of Health. This was in response to the Labour Government disbanding the District Health Boards in favour of centralised control.
Before ordering councils to introduce fluoridation, the Director General must:
- seek and consider advice from the Director of Public Health
- consider all scientific evidence on the effectiveness of fluoridation to reduce dental decay
- determine whether any benefits outweigh the financial costs, taking into account the likely state of oral health in your community and the number of people likely to receive water from the local authority.
- The ongoing cost of fluoridation
See original Bill Health Fluoridation of Drinking Water Amendment Bill
Why we are opposed:
This Legislation shifts responsibility from the local councils to the Director General of Health. It is designed to make it virtually impossible to stop fluoridation in currently fluoridated areas, or to keep it out of places that do not have it – even if that community has said “no” to it in the past. Local Councils will be required to do as the DHB dictates or face a fine of $200,000 and a further $10,000 per day of non-compliance.
This Legislation does not allow for the local councils to consult with the community
What the Politicians said:
At First Reading, Annette King, who was then Labour’s spokesperson on Health had this to say:
“The Minister said that population health is best addressed by elected district health boards at a local level. They are required by the Minister of Health, who has absolute say over what they do through the letter of expectation, to carry out the wishes of the Government of the day. So the idea that they have got some autonomy in making decisions around health is only very, very at the edges, if at all.”
As you will see from the transcript and related documents and the video footage of the MPs that spoke at the first Reading (5th of December 2016) – National, Labour and the Greens support the Bill. You will also see that none of the speakers know very much about the subject. Health Select Committee Chair Simon O’Connor mistakenly credits his good teeth on taking fluoride tablets as a child. Unbeknownst to him, the Ministry of Health no longer recommends fluoride tablets because we now know fluoride doesn’t work by swallowing and fluoride tablets cause dental fluorosis!
In a press release in December 2016, Labour also condemned the Maori Party for running a poll to find out what people think.
In February 2017 , the Health Select Committee received 1200 submissions and heard hundreds of people give oral presentations.
The Committee reported back to Parliament with a few recommendations. Since the election, the Health Select Committee has completely changed so none of the MPs that heard the submissions are on the Committee now.
Download Select Committee Report (contains recommendations for amendments)
Where the Parties stood
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who introduced the Bill, has called people who are opposed to fluoridation as “tin-foil hat wearing, UFO-abducted pseudo-scientists.” He mustn’t have realised that he was insulting around half of the NZ population. Results from all referenda held in NZ show that people tend to vote status quo. As only half of the country is fluoridated (23 councils out of 67, not “27 councils have rejected fluoridation” as Peter Dunne incorrectly stated) which means that roughly half the population is opposed to fluoridation (or maybe more than half) and if a nationwide referendum was held tomorrow, we would have a good chance of winning.
Peter Dunne, was voted out of Parliament in 2017
Labour: Pro-fluoridation and in favour of mandatory fluoridation
National: Pro-fluoridation and in favour of mandatory fluoridation
NZ First: should be decided by local referendum.
The Greens supported the Bill regardless of the opposition within the party. They refused to meet with anyone opposed.
Health Select Committee Members in 2018
Louisa Wall – Chairperson, Labour Party, Manurewa
Shane Reti – Deputy Chair, National Party, Whangarei
Jonathan Coleman – National Party, Northcote, ex-Health Minister who introduced the Bill
Matt Doocey – National Party, Christchurch
Liz Craig – Invercargill ,Labour Party , public health doctor
Kanongata’a Suisuiki Anahila – Labour, Senior exec Min Soc Development
Nicky Wagner – National Party, Christchurch
Angie Warren-Clark – Tauranga, Labour Party, lawyer, manager Women’s Refuge Tauranga
Health Select Committee Members in 2017 when Submissions were heard
Simon O’Connor, Chairperson, National Party, Tāmaki
Barbara Kuriger, Deputy-Chairperson, National Party, Taranaki-King Country
Melissa Lee, Member, National Party, Waitaki
Julie Anne Genter, Member, Green Party, List
David Clark, Member, Labour Party, Dunedin North
Sarah Dowie, Member, National Party, Invercargill
Scott Simpson, Member, National Party, Coromandel
Ria Bond, Member, NZ First, List
Poto Williams, Member, Labour Party, Christchurch East
In the Media
Whangarei District Council Whangārei Mayor says her council will not fluoridate unless government pays
Waipa District Council – Debate over fluoride flares
25th February 2021 Whangarei’s mayor against DHBs making fluoride decisions
7th June 2017 Fluoridation: the greatest good for the greatest number
17th November 2016 Press Release Jonathan Coleman and Peter Dunne
13th April 2016 Bill reopens fluoridation debate
12th April 2016 DHBs could make call on fluoridation
- Local Government New Zealand’s response to amendments to the Act
- Ministry of Health’s position statement on current proposed Legislation
- Legislative Disclosure Statement from the Ministry of Health.
- Regulatory Impact Statement – Transferring decision making
- MoH Report Summarising Submissions to the Select Committee
- Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman (Minister of Health) Fluoride in drinking water: Urgent amendment to Medicines Regulations 1984 proposed. (20 Nov 2014)
- Medicines Amendment Regulations 2015 (27 Jan 2015)
- New Health New Zealand Inc v Attorney General (Oct 2014)
- The question of legality (Updated as at May 2012)
- National Ethics Advisory Committee – why won’t they address fluoridation? (2006)
- Fluoridation decision-making in NZ contains a thorough analysis of the issue of human rights (2002)
- The Human Rights Commission ruling (1980)
- The Lewis (Privy Council) case (1965)