Posted on July 27, 2004

$7500 Fine For Racial Insults

Kay Dibben, Sunday Mail (Queensland),, Jul. 25

A RELATIVE of star footballer Wendell Sailor who complained about being called “a black slut” by a north Queensland taxi driver has won a racial discrimination case.

Gail Sailor says she would have no hesitation in taking another complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commission if anything similar happened.

And rugby union Test player Wendell Sailor says he is disappointed that such incidents still happen, although he says he is not surprised.

Sailor said that while growing up and playing football in north Queensland he had experienced racism, but he “just got through it”.

“There certainly is a problem of racial discrimination in Queensland,” he said.

“In time we just have to break it down.”

Queensland’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal ordered Atherton Taxi Company and driver Nigel Markwick jointly to pay Mrs Sailor $7500 plus $2000 legal costs.

Tribunal member Tracey Fantin found that in calling Mrs Sailor “a black slut” and on another occasion saying “you’re sober today”, Mr Markwick had “treated her less favourably in the supply of taxi services than another person who was not Aboriginal”. The substantial reason for that treatment was Mrs Sailor’s race.

Ms Fantin said while the words “you’re sober today” were not a direct racial epithet, the characteristic of drunkenness was often imputed to Aboriginal people and she believed the driver did so to Mrs Sailor on that occasion.

Mrs Sailor and her husband Frank told the tribunal that on a night in 2002 they were driven by Mr Markwick, who called Mrs Sailor “a black slut”.

Mr Sailor then punched Mr Markwick, but the taxi driver did not report the assault to police.

Mr Markwick told the tribunal that the Sailors, who had been drinking, had refused to pay the fare and had asked him to collect it the next day.

Mrs Sailor also complained of other incidents in which Mr Markwick demanded to look in her bag to see if she had fare money.

Mr Markwick, who has recently left Atherton Taxis, says he is not racist and he was still considering appealing against the tribunal decision.

A director of Atherton Taxis, Tony Brown, said he supported Mr Markwell and did not believe he had made any racial comments.

He said he would not tolerate any racism.

Mr Brown said he thought his company had been discriminated against.

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth said of the 97 complaints accepted by the Commission in north Queensland this year, 23 per cent had involved claims of racial discrimination.