King Street Hotel helps punters in line-up update electoral details ahead of same sex marriage postal vote

Speak-up: King Street Hotel operations manager Angus Harper at the popular club, which is trying to empower young people. Picture: Marina Neil
Speak-up: King Street Hotel operations manager Angus Harper at the popular club, which is trying to empower young people. Picture: Marina Neil

A popular Newcastle night spot has not only nailed its colours to the mast in support of same sex marriage, staff at the King Street Hotel are offering practical help to make sure young voters’ voices are heard.

While punters in the line-up were waiting to get into the Newcastle West venue on the weekend, staff armed with iPads helped them check that they were enrolled with the Australian Electoral Commission and that their details were up to date.

Anyone 18 or over has to be enrolled to vote at their current address by August 24 in order to take part in the postal vote on same sex marriage later this year.

King Street operations and marketing manager Angus Harper said staff and management at the hotel wanted to empower young people.

“It’s one of those things, I believe young people are very encouraging of and very supportive of [same sex marriage] because it does affect all of us,” he said. 

“It affects our friends, our family and the community.”

Mr Harper said a post on the King Street Hotel’s Facebook page that came out in support of same sex marriage – and urged people to vote in favour of changing the law – received an overwhelmingly positive response.

The post received more than 1300 likes and 156 shares – more than four times the number of likes King Street’s posts usually got, Mr Harper said.

The idea to give young voters some practical help came from a recent staff meeting.

“It became very clear that a lot of people felt very strongly about making a change, but a lot of the younger guys in the room weren’t educated on how to do so,” Mr Harper said. “A lot of them didn’t know it was a postal vote, a lot of them thought they had to turn up at their local primary school and that sort of thing, as occurs in other votes.

“It started as an idea to basically educate our own staff.

“It became evident to us that if our young staff didn’t know that this was the process, a lot of our patronage wouldn’t as well.”

Staff will be on hand again this weekend to check with young patrons in the line-up that they are registered and up to date with the AEC.

Angus Harper at the King Street Hotel. Picture: Marina Neil

Angus Harper at the King Street Hotel. Picture: Marina Neil

“It certainly wasn’t about us, we just want to empower young people,” Mr Harper said.

While the plebiscite will not be legally-binding, the Turnbull Government says it will use the results to inform a decision on whether to introduce legislation to parliament to change the Marriage Act. Survey forms will be mailed to voters from September 12 and the result of the plebiscite will be announced on November 15.

Visit check.aec.gov.au to find out whether you are enrolled to vote and that your details are up to date.