CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia is removing the British monarchy from its banknotes.
The country’s central bank said Thursday that its new $5 bill will replace the portrait of King Charles III with an indigenous design. But the monarch is still expected to appear on coins that currently bear the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The $5 bill was the only remaining bank note in Australia that still featured the King’s image.
The bank said the decision followed discussions 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 that role is largely symbolic these days. like many Former British colonyAustralia is debating the extent to which it should maintain its constitutional relationship with Britain.
The Reserve Bank of Australia said the new $5 bill will feature a design to replace the portrait of the Queen, who died last year. The bank said the move would “respect the culture and history of First Australians.”
“The other side of the $5 note will be seen in the Australian Parliament,” the bank said in a statement.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the change was an opportunity to strike a better balance.
“The emperor will still be on the coin, 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 favored the move to change the date of the national day, Australia Day.
“I know the silent majority don’t agree with a lot of the vigilante nonsense but we get to hear more from those people online,” he told 2GB Radio.
Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the king’s decision not to appear on the note, urging him to “own it”.
After taking office last year, the Australian began laying the groundwork for republicanism by creating a new post of assistant minister for the Albanian republic, but holding a referendum on stricter constitutional ties with Britain was not a first-order priority for his government.
The bank plans to consult with indigenous groups to design the $5 note, a process it expects to take several years before the new note is released.
The current $5 will be issued until the new design is introduced and will remain legal tender after the new bill is introduced.
King Charles III’s face is expected to appear on Australian coins later this year.
One Australian dollar is worth about 71 cents in US currency.
With the release of the 50 pence coin in December, British currency began to convert to the new monarch. The coin features Charles on the obverse and his mother’s obituary on the reverse.
This week, there were 208 million $5 notes worth AU$1.04 billion ($734 million) in circulation, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
10% of the more than 2 billion Australian bank notes are for Australia’s smallest denomination.
Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party wants Australia to become a republic and replace the British monarch with an Australian citizen as head of state.
After Labor won the election in May last year, it appointed Matt Thistlethwaite, an Albanian, as assistant republican minister. Thistlethwaite said in June that there would be no changes during the Queen’s lifetime.
Australians voted in a referendum proposed by a Labor government in 1999 to retain 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 peoples in the constitution. The government dismissed the inclusion of a republic question in that referendum as an unwanted distraction from its indigenous priorities.
At one time, Queen Elizabeth II appeared 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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