ABC NEWS RADIO WITH THOMAS ORITI
THURSDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2023
THOMAS ORITI (HOST): All right. Keep your eye on your coins over the next few months, because the first ones to feature the face of King Charles will soon be in circulation. Considering the queen died over a year ago, you might be wondering why it's taken so long. Well, apparently, getting Charles's head on a coin is a bit of a complex and time-consuming process. And to tell us more, we're joined now by Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Treasury. Morning to you, Minister.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMPETITION, CHARITIES AND TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Tom. Great to be with you and your listeners.
ORITI: What's the hold-up been then? Has the King been picky, perhaps, about the image that's going to go on the coin?
LEIGH: Well, we certainly didn't want to jump the gun in terms of getting the Royal Effigy and, of course, going through the appropriate testing processes. The Royal Mint's dies need to be used some 200,000 to 300,000 times. We use a different combination of metals than British coins, so there's a process of testing that we're going through. But Australians can expect to see those circulating coins before Christmas. They'll be coming out through banks, and it will be the first time in seven decades that we've seen a king on our coins. So, a pretty remarkable moment for Australia.
ORITI: It is indeed - for those of us who still carry coins around, of course. How do you choose an image? I guess it needs to be a flattering likeness of the King, but also an image that'll last for a good few years.
LEIGH: Indeed. So, we've used the image that was produced by the British Mint. It's known as the Commonwealth Effigy that's been provided to Australia, and we're just going through the testing processes at the moment for that Effigy. One of the things that people will notice about the coins is that while Queen Elizabeth had a crown on her head, King Charles doesn't. And that's a tradition. The first time the monarch appears on coins, typically they don't have a crown on their heads. And then, over time, we might expect that new effigies of King Charles would carry a crown.
ORITI: This effigy, does someone actually draw it or is it from a portrait or is it computer generated? How is it actually generated to begin with?
LEIGH: It's designed by a British designer and that's the same design that will appear on the British coins. One of the other things that people will notice is that the monarch changes direction, also one of those traditions.
ORITI: Yeah, the way the head faces. Right. That's different, isn't it?
LEIGH: Exactly, yes. And one of those traditions going back hundreds of years, the Queen face to the right, the King will face to the left.
ORITI: Wow. You're learning more about these traditions now even a year after the Queen's passing. How many coins will be minted?
LEIGH: Initially, there'll be a run of 10 million $1 coins and they'll come out into circulation. They'll be the classic ‘mob of roos’ coins, which have been circulating since the 1980s. And then, progressively, the king will appear on the five-cent, ten-cent, 20-cent, 50-cent and $2 coins over the course of next year.
ORITI: As fewer and fewer people use physical money, are we cutting back on how many we make?
LEIGH: The Mint makes over 100 million coins a year, but it's worth remembering that because Her Majesty has been on Australian coins since the beginning of decimal currency in 1966, the Mint has produced some 15 billion coins with Queen Elizabeth's face on them. So, we're going to be spending coins with queens on them for many decades to come.
ORITI: Yeah. I mean this goes without saying, but obviously any dollar coin with the Queen's face on it is still legitimate currency, and I imagine we're not going to see it phased out anytime soon. Some coins you see still have years on them from decades ago. So, just remind us before I let you go, when are we set to see them? It sounds like it's going to be happening ahead of Christmas.
LEIGH: Ahead of Christmas. It'll come out through the banks and so just a matter of getting your hands on some coins and progressively more and more of those coins will have Kings on them rather than Queens.
ORITI: Okay, Andrew, thanks for your time. Appreciate it.
LEIGH: Thank you, Tom.
ORITI: Andrew Leigh, the Assistant Minister for Treasury there joining us. So, yeah, ahead of Christmas in the months to come, you should see the King's Effigy. That Royal Effigy designed in Britain, as Andrew just told us, is going to be firstly on the dollar coin and then rolled out from there. So, that's something to look forward to for coin collectors out there of course.