An aboriginal actor and elder has reportedly been refused two taxi rides in three days.
Jack Charles, known in Australia as ‘Uncle’ Jack has starred in a number of stage productions and films including this year’s release of Pan and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith in 1978.
The first incident occurred as he was travelling home after being awarded Victorian Senior Australian of the Year. The driver allegedly demanded the money up front in case he “might not pay”.
The second occassion was at Melbourne airport, where the taxi reportedly “took off” as Mr Charles approached it.
Mr Charles’ manager, Patrice Capogreco, who was with him at both times, told The Age: “He is now seeking legal advice on taking further action against the drivers involved as well as the taxi company.”
Ms Capogreco said: “Uncle Jack is such a resilient, strong man, but this has really knocked him for six.”
She alleges he was refused a taxi because he is Indigenous Australian, saying: “Uncle Jack knew that the taxi won’t stop for him but will stop for me… If it was me, would it have taken off? No, because it is racial discrimination.”
Mr Charles spoke to the BBC before the first incident and said it was common for Aborigines to be refused taxis.
“We’re so used to it… being abused by this behaviour. White Australia has to get used to the term racial vilification.”
The Taxi Service Commission chief executive, Aaron de Rozario told The Age: “This type of behaviour is unacceptable and illegal” and will investigate the issue “as a matter of priority”.
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