Australia is removing the British monarchy from all its banknotes

Australian bank notes
Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes, with the new $5 bill to feature an Indigenous design rather than an image of King Charles III.
(Alan Porritt / AAP Image)
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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 rather than an image of King Charles III. But the new British monarch, who is officially Australia’s head of state, is still expected to appear on coins, which currently bear the image of his late mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The $5 bill was Australia’s only remaining bank-note to still feature an image of the monarch.

The bank said the decision followed consultation with the center-left Labor Party government, which supported the change. Opponents say the move is politically motivated.


The British monarch’s role as Australia’s head of state is largely symbolic. Like many former British colonies, Australia is debating to what extent it should retain its constitutional ties to Britain.

Australia’s Reserve Bank said the new $5 bill would feature a design to replace the portrait of the queen, who died in September. The bank said the move would honor “the culture and history of the First Australians.”

Queen Elizabeth II has been depicted on British banknotes and coins for decades.

Sept. 10, 2022

“The other side of the $5 banknote 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 coins, but the $5 note will say more about our history and our heritage and our country, and I see that as a good thing,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton likened the move to changing the date of the national day, Australia Day.

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Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the decision that the king not appear on the note, and urged Albanese to “own up to it.”

Albanese’s Labor Party is seeking to make Australia a republic with an Australian citizen as head of state instead of the British monarch.

After taking office last year, Albanese started laying the groundwork by creating a new position of assistant minister for the republic, but holding a referendum to sever constitu- tional ties with Britain has not been a first-order priority for his government.

The bank plans to consult with Indigenous groups in designing the $5 note, a process it expects will take several years before the new note goes public.

Premier Jacinda Ardern says she has no plans to remove the British monarch as New Zealand’s head of state following Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

Sept. 12, 2022

The current $5 bill, with the queen’s image, will be issued until the new design is introduced and will remain legal tender even after the new bill goes into circulation. The face of King Charles III is expected to be seen on Australian coins later this year.

British currency began transitioning to the new monarch with the release of the 50-pence coin in December. It has Charles on the front of the coin; the back commemorates his mother, who reigned for a record-breaking 70 years.


This week, there were 208 million $5 notes in circulation, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. The $5 bill is Australia’s smallest banknote denomination and accounts for 10% of the more than 2 billion Australian banknotes circulating.

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After Labor won elections in May, Albanese appointed Matt Thistlethwaite as assistant minister for the republic. Thistlethwaite said in June that there would be no change in the queen’s lifetime.

Australians voted in a 1999 referendum, put forward by a Labor government, to maintain the British monarch as Australia’s head of state.

After the queen’s death, the government had already committed to holding a referendum this year to acknowledge Indigenous people in the constitution. The government has dismissed adding a republic question to that referendum as an unwanted distraction from the priority issue of Indigenous representation.

At one time, Elizabeth’s image appeared on at least 33 different currencies, more than any other monarch, an achievement noted by Guinness World Records.