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King Charles representative not warned about $5 note change: ‘Gross lack of courtesy’

The Governor-General’s office was forced to send a last-minute letter to Buckingham Palace over $5 note change.

Australian $5 note with Queen Elizabeth.
The Governor-General's office was forced to quickly pen a letter to Buckingham Palace about the $5 note change. (Source: Getty)

The decision to remove Queen Elizabeth from the Australian $5 note was not run past the Governor-General’s office before being announced to the public.

Paul Singer, the Governor-General’s official secretary, said they found out about the decision at the same time as everyone else.

"The first I became aware of the decision was the media release from the Reserve Bank," Singer told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday.

Singer then penned a last-minute letter to his counterpart at Buckingham Palace, to alert the royals of the news before it spread.


“[This was] so to ensure they didn't wake up to the news not having been forewarned,” Singer said.

While Singer did not speak about Governor-General David Hurley’s response to the news, he said Hurley “probably shared my surprise”.

Liberal Senator Dean Smith asked whether he would call the lack of consultation “a gross lack of courtesy”.

“That’s for others to comment,” Singer replied.

$5 note will honour First Nations people

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) confirmed King Charles III would not be replacing Queen Elizabeth II on the $5 note. Instead, the new design will honour Australia’s First Nations people.

“The Reserve Bank has decided to update the $5 banknote to feature a new design that honours the culture and history of the First Australians,” the RBA said in the statement.

“This new design will replace the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The other side of the $5 banknote will continue to feature the Australian Parliament.

“This decision by the Reserve Bank board follows consultation with the Australian government, which supports this change.”

The new banknote will take a number of years to be designed and printed, the RBA said. In the meantime, the current $5 note will continue to be issued and remain legal tender.

The Royal Australian Mint will start minting coins with the portrait of King Charles III this year.

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