Reserve Bank of Australia – Currency

Reserve Bank of Australia – Currency


The Reserve Bank actually is responsible for issuing
Australian banknotes, but we’re also responsible from – all the way from production through
to circulation and then withdrawal and ultimate destruction of the banknotes, and the purpose
of that is to ensure that the Australian public can be confident in the banknotes and use
them in transactions and as a store of value. It’s only been the Reserve Bank’s job since
earlier in the 1900s. In fact, prior to Federation the commercial banks printed their own banknotes
and then eventually that power passed to the Commonwealth and then eventually to the central
bank. Coins actually aren’t printed by the Reserve
Bank; coins are the responsibility of the Mint which is based in Canberra.
So the first thing about our Australian banknotes is they’re plastic and this is quite unusual
and it was the first time in the world really that a plastic banknote had been issued, prior
to that banknotes were always issued on paper. And that actually is a very important security
feature. It does two things. It means it’s harder for people to reproduce a banknote
on plastic and, in addition, they’re much more durable, they last longer in circulation,
so that’s a really key thing about Australian banknotes.
The design of the banknotes is based on the plastic and it’s also got security features
in it. The first as I said is plastic, that’s a very important thing so it should – if
you scrunch it up it should spring back or if you try to tear it, it shouldn’t tear easily.
But there’s also the clear window at the bottom of all the banknotes, and that shouldn’t be
a stuck on piece of plastic, that should be integral to the banknote.
There’s a number of other security features as well. The printing needs to be – you
need to see very, very sharp printing and in fact on every banknote there’s this little
tiny micro printing and if you get a magnifying glass out or if you have really good eyes
you might be able to see it, it’s very, very precise printing and you can’t reproduce that
in a counterfeit. They are quite colourful and that’s a very
deliberate decision. For people with vision impairments who perhaps don’t have very clear
vision, the bright colours help them to distinguish between the banknotes. There’s a number of
other things which help them as well. All the banknotes are a slightly different size,
they get longer as they get higher value and they’ve got big bold numerals on them as well,
again to assist people with vision impairment. There’s around about 1.3 billion banknotes
in circulation and that in total value is around about $61 billion.
Now counterfeiting isn’t a problem in Australia and I think that reflects the fact that we’ve
had such a secure banknote with the plastic banknotes since the mid 1990s so it’s a long
time. But it isn’t a problem. However, we always want to make sure that we’re keeping
one step ahead of the counterfeiters. Technology these days, the price is coming down, it’s
getting easier to access this technology and what we want to do is make sure we just stay
one step ahead. So the banknote really is, I’ve often heard
it said, the business card of the country. It’s what people see when they come into the
country, it’s the first thing, so you want something that reflects your cultural heritage
or history and in our case what we have on our banknotes from our 10 upwards is we have
two people, a male and a female on each side of the banknote and those people have a story
behind them, and when you look at the banknote you will see pictures which represent that
person’s story in our history. The five dollar is a little different because
it has Parliament and the Queen on it, so it more represents democracy, Australia as
a democracy.

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