1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Australia's new $5 banknote won't feature King Charles

February 2, 2023

Australia will replace the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on its $5 banknote with a new design to reflect and honor the history of its Indigenous culture. King Charles III will feature on Australian coins, though.

Australian $5 notes are pictured in Sydney, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.
Australia had only kept the Queen on the $5 note, but will not replace her with her son CharlesImage: Mark Baker/AP Photo/picture alliance

Australia's central bank said on Thursday that the country's new A$5 banknote would replace an image of the British monarch with one honoring Australian Indigenous cultures. 

It's the last banknote in Australia that still bears the head of recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II. Whether that would remain the case became a question as King Charles III ascended the throne.

The bank had already said that retaining Elizabeth on the $5 bill had had as much to do with her personal stature as with her position.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said that the decision had been taken in consultation with the government, which supports the change, and that a new design would be chosen that "honors the culture and history of the First Australians." 

Mix of Australian currency.
King Charles' head will start appearing on Australian coins this year, however, eventually in all denominationsImage: Rafael Ben-Ari/ Chameleons Eye/Newscom/picture alliance

The design will take several years to be printed and finalized and the old note will remain legal tender for some time after the new one goes into circulation, the bank said.

The British monarch's head will also remain on all of Australia's coins, with the first ones featuring Charles' likeness to be minted this year.

Opposition alleges government behind the plan 

Australians voted fairly narrowly, roughly 55%-45%, not to become a republic in a 1999 referendum, but observers expected the discussion might resurface when Elizabeth II's long reign ended. 

Although the role is largely ceremonial, King Charles remains Australia's head of state, as he does in several other members of what today is called the Commonwealth including New Zealand.

Prime Minister Antony Albanese, of the center-left Labor Party, has been an advocate for a republic in the past, though he said soon after Elizabeth's death that it was too soon to revisit the issue.

King Charles III speaks with Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, as he receives realm prime ministers in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace in London.
King Charles III is Albanese's head of state, though not for the first time for an Australian prime minister, he is not convinced that should remain the caseImage: Stefan Rousseau/empics/picture alliance

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said in a radio interview on Thursday that he believed Albanese's government was the driving force behind the announcement hailing from the central bank. 

"There's no question about this, that it's directed by the government and I think the Prime Minister should own up to it," Dutton said on local radio station 2GB.

Greens Senator Lidia Thorpe, an opposition lawmaker of Indigenous descent, wrote on Twitter: "This is a massive win for the grassroots, First Nations people who have been fighting to decolonize this country. First Nations people never ceded our Sovereignty to any King or Queen, ever. Time for a Treaty Republic!"

msh/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters)