CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is removing the British monarchy from its bank notes.
The nation’s central bank said Thursday its new $5 bill would feature an Indigenous design rather than an image of King Charles III. But the king is still expected to appear on coins.
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 government, which supported the change. Opponents say the move is politically motivated.
The British monarch remains Australia’s head of state, although these days that role 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 a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, who died last year. The bank said the move would honor “the culture and history of the First Australians.”
“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.
“I know the silent majority don’t agree with a lot of the woke nonsense that goes on but we’ve got to hear more from those people online,” he told 2GB Radio.
Dutton said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was central to the decision for the king not to appear on the note, urging him to “own up to it.”
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.
The current $5 will continue to 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.
One Australian dollar is worth about 71 cents in U.S. currency.