Canberra, Australia – Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes.
The country’s central bank said Thursday that its new $5 bill will feature an aboriginal design rather than an image of King Charles III. The King’s effigy is still supposed to appear on coins.
The $5 bill was the only surviving banknote in Australia that still featured the king’s portrait.
The RBA said the decision was taken after consultation with the government, which supported the change. However, opponents of the measure argue that the move is politically motivated.
King Charles III remains the leader of Australia, although this role is now largely symbolic. Like many former British colonies, Australia debates the extent to which it should maintain its constitutional ties to the British monarchy.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said the new $5 bill will feature an image to replace that of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last year, while honoring “the culture and history of early Australians”.
“The obverse side of the $5 bill will continue to be shown to the Australian Parliament,” the bank said in a statement.
Australian Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jim Chalmers, said the change was an opportunity to strike the right balance.
“The King will always be on the coins, but the $5 bill will say more about our history, our heritage and our country, and I think that’s a good thing,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton compared the move to the controversy over changing the date of Australia’s national holiday to move away from its colonial past.
“I know the silent majority doesn’t agree with a lot of this crap, but we need to hear more from these people online,” he told 2GB Radio.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese played a central role in the decision to remove the effigy of King Charles III from the $5 bill, according to Dutton. He urged him to “assume his responsibilities.”
The bank plans to consult with indigenous groups to design the $5 note, a process that is expected to take several years before the new note is made public.
The existing $5 note will continue to be issued until the new design is introduced and will retain its legal value even after the new Australian $5 note enters circulation.
The face of King Charles III is expected to appear on Australian coins later this year.
One Australian dollar equals approximately 71 US cents.