Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned taxi drivers who refuse fares from Indigenous Australians – “to get with the times or get out of this state”!
On Wednesday evening, 2015 Victorian Senior of the year and veteran indigenous actor Jack Charles, popularly known as Uncle Jack, was with two artists from Turkey when they hailed a taxi at Flinders Street Station.
Charles says his Turkish friend entered the taxi but when he attempted to sit inside the cabbie refused.
Charles said - “I opened the back door and then he [the driver] yelled out, ‘I’ve knocked off! I’ve knocked off!’ And he squealed away with my hand in the door.”
To add insult to injury, the taxi driver laughed at Charles.
“My ire rises up immediately when I’m taking his photograph and he’s laughing his head off,” Charles further added.
Charles have been refused taxi twice in six months.
He has acted in landmark Australian films, such as The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Bedevil (1993), Blackfellas (1993), Tom White (2004) and Pan (2015).
A number of cases have emerged where taxi drivers, mostly belonging to ethnic communities, have refused to carry indigenous Australians.
Charles says - “He has the power to refuse Aboriginals like myself. He has the power to refuse short journeys by the elderly. They have the power to disregard and ignore people in wheelchairs. This mob has total disrespect for us.”
Charles has handed the images to his lawyers, who will get in touch with the Victorian Taxi Association.
Even last year, a group of prominent indigenous actors was repeatedly refused fare by taxi drivers in Melbourne and racially abused.
Charles said it would be great to have cultural and history education programs for taxi drivers.
A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission report, released last year, has found racial discrimination and vilification affected many Australians and for some people was a constant feature of their daily lives.
Racial profiling is a serious concern in Australia and particularly in taxi industry.
The Victorian Taxi Association has released a statement condemning any racial profiling in the industry and have called it “concerning and unacceptable.”
They Association is awaiting a formal complaint from Charles.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told BuzzFeed News that cabbies need to get with the times or get out of his state.
Andrews said - “This is the sort of discrimination Aboriginal Victorians still face. It’s just wrong.”
He further added - “Anyone who would refuse a trip on the grounds of race shouldn’t be driving taxis in this state.”