ABC SYDNEY BREAKFAST WITH CHRIS TAYLOR
THURSDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Release of coins with King Charles III’s effigy
CHRIS TAYLOR: Now, if you're into your coins, you might be interested to learn that the first batch of coins featuring the effigy of His Majesty King Charles III, have now officially been manufactured by the Royal Australian Mint and released into circulation. I haven't seen one yet. I think I've still got the Queen. Well, who's using cash is the first point, but to the extent I do still occasionally have some loose change in my pocket, I think it's still pretty Queeny. But apparently we now need to keep a lookout because the first coins, with His Majesty's face in circulation, they're $1 coins. There's going to be three and a half million of them starting to appear in cash registers across the country. Dr. Andrew Leigh is the Assistant Minister for Treasury who's been overseeing the rollout. Good morning, Andrew.
ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY ANDREW LEIGH: Good morning, Chris. I've got to say, my wallet is still pretty Queenly as well, but I'm sure that will change over the coming years.
TAYLOR: Are you a cash person? I can't imagine in the Treasury Department you'd be dealing with cash, wouldn't it all be cards these days?
LEIGH: I tend to be a tap and go kind of guy, but certainly I've got a collection of coins in the car for parking and they're still a pleasurable thing to collect. I used to collect coins and stamps as a kid, as I'm sure many people did, and there's an enthusiasm for cash that I don't imagine will ever go away.
TAYLOR: Yes and I have found, I must admit, buskers, of course, aren't always set up, or even people experiencing homelessness and that kind of thing. You know, they don't have the tap and go. So, I find it's not a bad idea to carry some coins around. Now, I don't know if you're a royalist or a coin collector, but yes, how exciting is this to finally have our new monarch on the coins?
LEIGH: It's pretty extraordinary. I mean, ever since decimal currency came in in 1966, we've had the Queens on our coins. There's been some 16 billion coins printed with the Queen on them, and now the very first coins with a king on them will be coming out. For most Australians, this will be the first time they've held an Australian coin in their hands with the King's visage on it.
TAYLOR: There'll be some people very excited about this. For me, it's sort of a take it or leave it thing, but I know there'll be royalists or just coin connoisseurs and collectors who'll find this a very big milestone.
LEIGH: Well, monarchist or republican, this is a moment of change in Australia's history and marks the start of a new era. And one of the interesting traditions people can look out for, Chris, is that you'll notice if you look at a coin now that the Queen faces to the right, King Charles will face to the left. So, the tradition of the monarch switching direction is one that goes back to at least the 17th century. Some people say it goes to a tradition of King Charles II wanting to face away from Oliver Cromwell, but I haven't been able to verify that.
TAYLOR: Isn't that interesting? King Charles faces to the left, and a lot of people would think because of his environmental causes, he is a monarch that faces to the left. What sort of period of Charles have they gone with? Is it modern day Charles? Sort of a man in his 80s?
LEIGH: It certainly reflects an older gentleman. And that's a design from the British Mint. We've adopted that design under licence for the Australian coins.
TAYLOR: And those that are interested, they can start looking out for them in cash registers and shops, what from today?
LEIGH: That's right, they're out there already. As you said, it's the $1 coin that we're starting with. But soon there'll be other circulating and collecting coins out in the system. People can expect those 3 million coins to be turning up in cash registers, banks, anywhere else you get your coins.
TAYLOR: Thanks very much for bringing that to our attention.
LEIGH: Real pleasure, Chris.