Racial element in bus driver snub?

From the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin:

Bus driver’s snub called racial.
Chris Schwarten
September 14, 2012

ALL Tilleala Leisha wanted was a day at the beach and a safe trip home on the bus with her friends.

But the indigenous 19-year-old was left stranded and confused when the last bus out of Yeppoon allegedly refused to pick up her group of three women and one man.

She said the bus was mostly empty and every person in her party held a return ticket for the day.

Her confusion soon turned to anger when Tilleala’s mother Shirmona Barlow called the bus company to complain about the incident.

Shirmona said Young’s Bus Service told her the group wasn’t picked up because they were intoxicated; an allegation which both Tilleala and Shirmona deny.

“That just wasn’t true,” Shirmona said.

“They hadn’t been drinking at all. I spoke to them when they got home and they were stone-cold sober.”

Shirmona said she believed the driver’s reluctance to pick up the group was racially-motivated.

“The driver has just seen four indigenous people and decided it wasn’t worth it,” Shirmona said.

“I understand there are problems with some people, but you can’t tar everybody with the same brush just because of their skin colour.”

The Bulletin has made several attempts to contact Young’s Bus Service since Wednesday morning, but a company spokesperson has been unavailable to comment on this issue.

Tilleala said the group was fortunate enough to receive assistance from a security guard at Yeppoon Central Shopping Centre, who complained to the company and also organised a cab to come and pick them up.

While Tilleala doesn’t want to go back to Yeppoon any time soon after the incident, she wanted to thank the security guard who had helped them and was kind enough to pay for half of the cab ride for the group, as they did not have enough funds for the trip.

News brief · 17 September 2012