Coles sued over ‘racist incident’ at Townsville petrol station

An Aboriginal activist is suing retail giant Coles after he was asked to pre-pay for fuel at a petrol station in Townsville.

Academic and former diplomat Doctor Stephen Hagan has launched legal action against Coles Express under the Racial Discrimination Act, The Australian reports.

Dr Hagan said he pulled into a gas station in Garbutt to fill up his rental car on the way to the airport. He was in Townsville to attend the Elton John concert with his wife.

He said he “could not engage the bowser” and was then called over the public address system to go inside the service station, where he was instructed he had to prepay for his fuel.

“I asked the attendant why I had to pay in advance whilst other white drivers – one had just paid and another was in line behind me — weren’t being asked to do the same,” Dr Hagan said.

“My concerns were confirmed when the attendant said he had problems ‘with others doing drive offs without paying’.”

According to The Australian, Coles’ legal representatives said an internal investigation had been held into the “unpleasant experience”, but denied that Dr Hagan had been “racially profiled”.

Through its lawyers, Coles said it was still dark when Dr Hagan drove into the petrol station and “due to the distance from the CCTV camera” the licence was not visible and attendant could “not clearly see the driver’’.

Dr Hagan is a longtime activist for Indigenous rights. Earlier this week he weighed into the Black Lives Matters protests, highlighting the brutal death of Dunghutti man David Dungay Jr in custody back in 2015, which partly inspired today’s protests around Australia.

In 2016, he made headlines for calling Toowoomba “the most racist city in Australia” after a local chemist put up a display of nine golliwogs with the words “Experience a white Christmas” above it.

The author and filmmaker also famously campaigned against the E.S. “N****r” Brown Stand in 1999.

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