Jack Charles ... 'Racism is alive and well'.

Jack Charles ... 'Racism is alive and well'. Photo: Photo: Peter Rae

Veteran indigenous actor Jack Charles claims a Sydney taxi driver has refused his fare in an act of blatant racism.

The 70-year-old ordered a cab on Friday from his Zetland apartment to take him to Belvoir St Theatre, where he is in rehearsals for a new production.

Racism is alive and well on Australian soil 

He said when the driver arrived he claimed he had instead been booked to go to Parramatta and refused to take Charles. Shortly after, Charles heard him accepting a fare from a Caucasian couple to the airport.

"That's when the penny dropped," said Charles. "I thought, this man is having me on. He's lied to me. He doesn't want to take me. No surprise there. Same old story."

Charles remonstrated with the driver, taking photographs of him and his car.

"He commented that he wasn't racist but I said, 'actually you are'. You should know you are racist. I know you wouldn't refuse white people."

Charles, whose acting career spans 50 years, has starred in films including The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith and Tom White as well as many stage plays.

Belvoir St Theatre spokeswoman Elly Clough said an almost identical incident happened on Monday to indigenous actors Kelton Pell and Melodie Reynolds-Diarra, both of whom are working alongside Charles in the production Coranderrk.

When their cab arrived at the apartment building, the driver said it wasn't for them and that he was heading elsewhere. The driver then took another fare to a third destination.

"We're appalled this occurs on a daily basis," said Belvoir executive director Brenna Hobson. "For actors from interstate, taxis are a crucial mode of transport and it is outrageous that this service is so regularly denied to indigenous performers. These incidents highlight a much larger issue of the wide-spread discrimination against indigenous people."

Charles agreed such treatment was not unusual.

"In the past I've ignored it," he said. "But I can't hold back. I have to say something. I can't let it lie. I'm wondering how often this will happen while I'm on this particular gig."

The incidents are reminiscent of a recent furore in Melbourne last year, sparked when award-winning singer Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was refused a cab in St Kilda.

And earlier this year a group of four prominent indigenous actors were also refused by four separate taxi drivers in Southbank in Melbourne.

"The point is, I'm the one that can talk and speak but there are many others that can't," said Charles. "Racism is alive and well on Australian soil."

A spokesman for the NSW Taxi Council said the peak body would be making contact with Charles and the taxi network concerned "as a matter of urgency" to investigate.