Paper Money

No King Charles III planned for future Australia $5 note

Queen Elizabeth II is depicted, by the bank’s choice, on the current $5 note of the Reserve Bank of Australia, but her successor, King Charles III, will not appear on the next version of the denomination.

Images courtesy of Reserve Bank of Australia.

Confirming widely rumored speculation, the Reserve Bank of Australia acknowledged on Feb. 2 that King Charles III will not appear on its new $5 bank note.

Instead, it has decided to update the $5 note to feature a new design that honors the culture and history of the First Australians. This new design will replace the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The other side of the $5 note will continue to feature the New Parliament House and the Forecourt Mosaic, which is based on a Central Desert dot-style painting by Michael Nelson Jagamara titled Possum and Wallaby Dreaming.

This decision by the Reserve Bank Board follows consultation with the Australian government, which supports this change. The Bank will consult with First Australians in designing the new bank note. Between designing, testing, and printing, the process will take at least several years. In the meantime, the current $5 bank note will continue to be issued, and it will be legal for use even after the new note is introduced.

The Guardian reported on Feb. 19 that a freedom of information request revealed that the Reserve Bank of Australia offered the federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, a choice. He replied on Dec. 16 that the government “would be comfortable with a new design that honors the culture and history of First Australians, assuming a proper process for inclusive consultation is undertaken.”

Chalmers also said, “I welcomed the Reserve Bank’s decision on the day it was announced. I think it gets the balance right, and the Monarch will continue to be represented on all of our coins.”

Australia’s other current bank notes, all polymer, are the $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations. The $5 note is the only one that depicts the British monarch. Before the switch from paper to polymer that started in 1992, the queen was on the $1 note, first issued in 1966.

The commemorative $10 note issued in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s bicentennial was Australia’s first polymer bank note, but that note is not considered a regular issue.

The subjects of the other current bank notes are author and rights activist Dame Mary Gilmore and poet and journalist A.B. “Banjo” Paterson on the $10 note; convict turned businesswoman Mary Reibey and aerial medical service pioneer Reverend John Flynn on the $20 note; Aboriginal author, activist, inventor, musician and preacher David Unaipon and the first female member of an Australian parliament, Edith Cowan, on the $50 note; and on the $100 note, Sir John Monash, an engineer, soldier and civic leader, and Dame Nellie Melba, an internationally renowned soprano who performed in Australia, Europe and the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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