Australia’s Central Bank has announced it will remove of the monarchy from the $5 bank notes as the AUD dollar hovers around 71 cents against the US dollar. The central bank reported that instead of an image of King Charles III, the $5 bill would feature an Indigenous design.
However, the King is still expected to appear on coins that currently depict the late Queen Elizabeth II. The $5 bill was Australia’s last remaining banknote with an image of the monarch.
According to the central bank, the decision was made after consultation with the center-left Labor Party government, which supported the change. Opponents claim the move is motivated by politics.
The British monarch is still Australia’s head of state, though his role is largely symbolic these days. Australia, like many former British colonies, is debating whether to keep its constitutional ties to Britain.
The Reserve Bank of Australia announced that the new $5 bill would feature a design to replace the queen’s portrait, which died last year. According to the bank, the move will honor “the culture and history of the First Australians.”
“The Australian parliament will continue to appear on the other side of the $5 banknote,” the bank said in a statement.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers described the change as a chance to strike a good balance.
“The monarch will remain on the coins, but the $5 note will say more about our history, heritage, and country, which I see as a positive,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton compared the move to changing the date of Australia Day. “I know the silent majority doesn’t agree with a lot of the woke nonsense that goes on,” he said on 2GB Radio.
Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the decision to leave the king off the note, and he urged him to “own up to it.”
Albanese began laying the groundwork for an Australian republic after taking office last year by creating a new position of assistant minister for the republic, but holding a referendum to sever constitutional ties with Britain has not been a top priority for his government.
The bank intends to consult with Indigenous groups when designing the $5 note, a process that it anticipates will take several years before the new note is released to the public.
The current $5 bill will be issued until the new design is introduced, and it will continue to be legal tender even after the new bill is introduced.
Later this year, the face of King Charles III is expected to appear on Australian coins.
In US currency, one Australian dollar is worth about 71 cents.
With the release of the 50 pence coin in December, Britain’s currency began to transition to the new monarch. The front of the coin features Charles, while the back honors his mother.
According to the Bank of Australia, there were 208 million $5 notes in circulation this week, worth AU$1.04 billion.
The smallest denomination in Australia accounts for 10% of the more than 2 billion Australian bank notes in circulation.
Albanese’s center-left Labor Party wants to make Australia a republic, with an Australian citizen replacing the British monarch as head of state.
Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as assistant minister for the republic after Labor won elections in May of last year. Thistlethwaite stated in June that no changes would be made during the queen’s lifetime.
Australians voted in a referendum proposed by a Labor government in 1999 to keep the British monarch as the country’s head of state.
The government had already committed to holding a referendum this year to include Indigenous people in the constitution when the queen died. The government has dismissed the inclusion of a republic question in that referendum as an unwelcome distraction from its priority of Indigenous peoples.
Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies at one time, more than any other monarch, according to Guinness World Records.