Australia is removing British monarchy from its bank notes

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes.

The country’s central bank announced on Thursday that the country’s new $5 bill has a native design instead of an image of King Charles III. But the monarch is expected to continue to appear on coins that currently feature the late Queen Elizabeth II.

The $5 bill was the only surviving Australian banknote that still features an image of the monarch.

The bank said the decision was made after consultation with the centre-left Labor government, which had backed the change. Opponents say this move is politically motivated.

The British monarch is still Australia’s head of government, although the role is largely symbolic these days. Like many former British coloniesAustralia is debating how long it should maintain legal ties with the UK.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said the new $5 note will feature a design to replace the portrait of the Queen, who died last year. The bank said the move would honor “the culture and history of the first Australians”.

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“The other side of the $5 bill will continue to represent the Parliament of Australia,” the bank said in a statement.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the change was an opportunity to strike a fine balance.

“The king will still be on the coins, but the $5 bill says a lot more about our history and heritage and our country, and I think that’s a good thing,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton likened the move to changing the date of the national day, Australia Day.

“I know the silent majority don’t agree with a lot of the woke bullshit, but we need to hear more from those people online,” he told 2GB radio.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was instrumental in deciding not to include the king in the memo, Dutton said, urging him to “accept it”.

After taking office last year, Albanese began laying the groundwork for an Australian republic by creating a new position of assistant minister, but holding a referendum on severing constitutional ties with Britain has not been a top priority for his government.

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The bank plans to consult with indigenous groups on the design of the $5 bill, a process it expects to take several years before the new note is on the market.

The current $5 will be issued until the new design is introduced and will remain legal tender even after the new note is in circulation.

King Charles III is expected to appear on Australian coins later this year.

One Australian dollar is worth about 71 cents to the US currency.

British currency began the transition to the new monarchy with the release of the 50 pence coin in December. Charles is on the obverse of the coin and his mother is commemorated on the reverse.

This week, 208 million $5 notes worth A$1.04 billion ($734 million) were in circulation, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.

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Australia’s smallest money makes up 10% of Australia’s more than 2 billion notes in circulation.

Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party seeks to make Australia a republic with an Australian citizen as head of government rather than the British monarch.

After Labor’s election victory in May last year, Albanese appointed Matt Thistlewitt as Assistant Secretary of the Republic. Thistlethwaite said in June that there would be no changes during the Queen’s lifetime.

Australians voted to retain the British monarch as Australia’s head of government in a 1999 referendum proposed by a Labor government.

When the Queen died, the government had pledged to hold a referendum this year to recognize indigenous peoples in the constitution. The government has dismissed the addition of a republican issue to the referendum as an unintended deviation from its indigenous priority.

At one point, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.


Perry contributed from Wellington, New Zealand.


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