CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes.
The U.S. central bank said Thursday that its new $5 bill will feature an Aboriginal design rather than an image of King Charles III. But the king is still expected to appear on coins currently bearing the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The $5 note is the only remaining banknote in Australia that still bears the image of the monarch.
The bank said the decision was taken after consultation with the centre-left Labor government, which supported the change. Opponents say the move is politically motivated.
The British monarch remains Australia’s head of state, although today that role is largely symbolic.like many former british coloniesAustralia is debating the extent to which it should retain its constitutional link with the UK.
The Reserve Bank of Australia says the design of the new $5 note will replace the portrait of the Queen, who died last year. The bank said the move would respect “the culture and history of the first Australians”.
“The reverse side of the $5 note will continue to feature 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 coin, but the $5 note 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 likened the move to changing the date of Australia Day, the national holiday.
He told 2GB radio: “I know the silent majority disagrees with a lot of the waking up bullshit that’s going on, but we have to hear more from these people.”
Mr Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was at the heart of the King’s decision not to appear on the banknote, urging him to “recognize that”.
After taking office last year, Albanese created a new post of assistant republic minister to start laying the foundations for an Australian republic, but holding a referendum to sever constitutional ties with Britain is not his government’s top priority.
The bank plans to consult with Indigenous groups when designing the $5 bill, a process expected to take years before the new bill hits the market.
The current $5 will be issued before the new design is introduced, and will remain legal tender even after the new bills enter circulation.
King Charles III is expected to appear on Australian coins later this year.
An Australian dollar is worth about 71 US cents.
With the release of the 50p coin in December, British currency begins its transition to a new monarch. The coin features Charles on the obverse and his mother on the reverse.
There were 208 million A$1.04 billion ($734 million) $5 notes in circulation this week, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
Australia’s smallest denomination banknotes make up 10 per cent of the more than 2 billion Australian banknotes in circulation.
The Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party is seeking to make Australia a republic headed by an Australian citizen rather than a British monarch.
After Labor won elections in May last year, Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as assistant minister for the republic. Thistlethwaite said in June that nothing would change during the Queen’s lifetime.
Australians voted in a 1999 referendum proposed by the Labor government to keep the British monarch as Australia’s head of state.
When the queen died, the government had promised to hold a referendum this year to recognize Aboriginal people in the constitution. The government has refused to include a republican question in the referendum, arguing it would be an unnecessary distraction from its Indigenous priorities.
At one point, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, an achievement recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Perry is from Wellington, New Zealand.