The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has announced that King Charles III will not feature on the country’s new AUD5 note.
Instead, the design will pay tribute to “the culture and history” of Indigenous Australians.
The RBA stated that it will consult with Indigenous Australians in designing the note and that the current note, which features a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II, will continue to be issued for a number of years until the new design is ready.
The Queen’s death last year reignited debates about Australia’s future as a constitutional monarchy, and the decision to change the note design was welcomed by Aboriginal politicians and community leaders.
In the past, the British monarch’s portrait has appeared on at least one design in every series of Australian banknotes.
The AUD5 note is the only Australian banknote to carry the image of a British monarch, while the late Queen also appears on the country’s coins – which will continue to feature an image of the monarch.
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The decision to remove the British monarch from Australia’s currency was welcomed by Aboriginal politicians and community leaders, with Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe calling it a “massive win for the grassroots, First Nations people who have been fighting to decolonise this country.” First Nations people lived in Australia for at least 65,000 years before British colonisation.
Jim Chalmers, the Treasurer, also welcomed the move as striking a “good balance” for Australia.
Meanwhile, Peter Dutton, the leader of the opposition Liberal party, criticised the change, stating that it would anger the “silent majority” in Australia and calling it another attack on the country’s systems, society, and institutions.
In September 2021, Australia announced that the image of the new monarch would not automatically replace the Queen on its AUD5 notes, and that she might be replaced by Australian figures.
Australia’s republican movement has long viewed the Queen’s death as a pivotal moment for a possible change in the country’s political system.
The British monarch remains Australia’s official Head of State and appoints a Governor-General to act as the Crown’s representative in the country, though the position is mostly ceremonial. In 1999, a referendum on the issue was defeated after 55 per cent of voters rejected a motion to become a republic.
In recent years, much of Australia’s currency has already featured Indigenous Australian figures and artworks, and in 2021 the country officially changed its national anthem to remove reference to the country being “young and free”, amid calls to recognise that its Indigenous people are the oldest civilisation in the world.