CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes.
The nation’s central bank said Thursday that its new $5 bill would feature an indigenous design instead of an image of King Carlos III. But the king is still expected to appear on coins that currently bear the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The $5 note was the only remaining Australian bank note to still feature an image of the monarch.
The bank said the decision followed consultation with the centre-left Labor Party government, which supported the change. Opponents say the move is politically motivated.
The British monarch remains Australia’s head of state, although these days that role is largely symbolic. As many former british coloniesAustralia is debating the extent to which it should retain its constitutional ties with Britain.
The Reserve Bank of Australia said the new $5 note would 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 early Australians”.
“The other side of the $5 note will continue to show the Australian Parliament,” the bank said in a statement.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the change was an opportunity to strike a good balance.
“The monarch will still be on the coins, but the $5 note will say more about our history, our heritage and our country, and I see that as a good thing,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton compared 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 nonsense that goes on, but we need to listen to more of those people online,” he told 2GB Radio.
Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the decision not to have the king appear in the note, urging him to “acknowledge it”.
After taking office last year, Albanese began laying the groundwork for an Australian republic by creating a new post of deputy republic minister, but holding a referendum to sever constitutional ties with Britain has not been a top priority. first order for his government.
The bank plans to consult with indigenous groups on the design of the $5 bill, a process that it expects will take several years before the new bill is made public.
The current $5 will be issued until the new design is introduced and will remain legal tender even after the new note enters circulation.
The face of King Charles III is expected to be seen on Australian coins later this year.
An Australian dollar is worth about 71 cents in US currency.
The British currency began the transition to the new monarch with the launch of the 50 pence coin in December. He has Charles on the obverse of the coin, while the reverse commemorates his mother.
This week, there were 208 million $5 notes in circulation worth AU$1.04 billion ($734 million), according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Australia’s smallest denomination accounts for 10% of the more than 2 billion Australian banknotes in circulation.
The centre-left Albanese Labor Party seeks to make Australia a republic with an Australian citizen as head of state instead of the British monarch.
After Labor won the election in May last year, the Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as deputy minister for the republic. Thistlethwaite said in June there would be no change in the queen’s life.
Australians voted in a 1999 referendum proposed by a Labor government to keep the British monarch as Australia’s head of state.
When the queen died, the government had already promised to hold a referendum this year to recognize indigenous people in the constitution. The government has ruled out adding a Republican question to that referendum as an unwanted distraction from its indigenous priority.
At one point, Queen Elizabeth II was featured on at least 33 different coins, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.
Perry contributed from Wellington, New Zealand.
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