Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Mixed messages after fluoride overdose leaves -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

PETER CAVE: It may have happened a long time ago in the other states and territories but
Queenslanders are still unnerved about fluoride being added to their water.

Now the Government is trying to deal with a new scare following an apparent fluoride overdose that
left some residents sick.

There's been confusion and contradiction about who was affected by the overdose, how severe it was
and exactly when it happened.

Last night the Premier was forced to provide a third version of events.

Nicole Butler reports from Brisbane.

NICOLE BUTLER: When an overdose of fluoride was released into Brisbane's water supplies three weeks
ago people became sick. Most had gastroenteritis but there were other conditions.

Todd Crew believes the elevated fluoride levels affected his seven-year-old daughter's skin.

TODD CREW: Her skin started to blister and looked like a rash and then it proceeded to move to her
back and her buttocks and then her shoulders and then her face and then her head.

NICOLE BUTLER: The Queensland Government didn't reveal the problem until stories of illness started
to emerge two weeks after the overdose happened.

Now another week later an interim report has found when Premier Anna Bligh did come clean she gave
the public the wrong information.

ANNA BLIGH: It's not unusual in investigations for the original understanding of any incident to
sometimes be clarified or understood in a different way.

NICOLE BUTLER: Premier Bligh initially said the overdose happened on the 2nd of May. The report
said it took place on the 30th of April.

The Government said the mistake at the North Pine Water Treatment Plant affected the suburbs of
Brendale and Warner. It actually caused problems at Joyner and at a YMCA camp site where over 200
children were staying.

And the Premier at first said the water contained 31 milligrams of fluoride per litre. In fact it
contained 19.6, still well above the maximum of 1.5.

ANNA BLIGH: The plant operators provided the information on the best understanding of the facts at
the time. The international, sorry our independent expert has now thoroughly investigated it and
he's able to establish beyond any doubt this time that there was a different explanation.

NICOLE BUTLER: Premier Bligh says it's embarrassing to have to go public with a third version of

But she maintains Queenslanders can have faith in her Government even though Queensland is one of
the last Australian states to fluoridate its supplies and an overdose hasn't happened anywhere

ANNA BLIGH: It's a very unusual, extremely unusual event. There is no precedent that we can find
anywhere else in the country so that's I think no credit to the people who are involved in this,
and I want to find out exactly what happened.

NICOLE BUTLER: That's a point Queensland's Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek has seized on.

JOHN- PAUL LANGBROEK: Well clearly the Premier has just acknowledged that we've had something
happen in Queensland with the putting fluoride in the water that hasn't happened in any other state
and when she was talking about whether we want to look into the who, what, where - we want to know
how! That's what the people of Queensland want to know. How did this happen and why is it that this
has happened within the first six months of it being done in Queensland when it's never happened
anywhere else?

NICOLE BUTLER: The Liberal National Party leader says the current fiasco raises big questions about
the Bligh Government's ability to manage water, especially as it's considering adding recycled
sewage into drinking supplies.

JOHN- PAUL LANGBROEK: Well we don't know if it's being done properly and that's what the Opposition
is saying. We need to have the information.

The Premier apparently had information again on Tuesday that she's chosen not to release until last
night, late, when Parliament was no longer sitting; which again stops us enquiring about it because
she said she needed to make sure the information was correct.

So it begs the question, if the final report's not out 'til June 26, how do we know that this
information is correct and that people are not going to be unnecessarily concerned, worried about
the future, especially for the future of recycled water?

NICOLE BUTLER: Queenslanders will be able to sink their teeth into the final report on the fluoride
overdose when it's handed down next month.

PETER CAVE: Nicole Butler reporting.