Canberra [Australia], February 2 (ANI): Australia will replace the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on its new Australian dollar (AUD) 5 banknote with a new design to reflect the "culture and history of the First Australians," said the country's central bank on Thursday.
The design will replace the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said in a statement, adding that the decision was made after consulting with the Australian government, reported CNN.
After the queen's death last September, Australian authorities had said that the image of King Charles III would not automatically replace her on AUD 5 notes, and that she might be replaced by Australian figures. The bank will consult with First Australians in designing the AUD 5 banknote, which could take several years to be issued, it said.
First Australians refers to the country's Indigenous population, or First Nations people made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, descendants of the world's oldest continuous culture who have occupied the continent for more than 65,000 years. Together they make up about 3.2 per cent of the country's population of 25 million people.
In 2021, Australia officially amended its national anthem to remove reference to the country being "young and free" amid calls to recognize that its Indigenous people are the oldest civilization in the world.
Meanwhile, the current AUD 5 bill will continue to be circulated and remain legal tender even after the introduction of the new banknote, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia. Officials have also said existing coins with the Queen's image will remain legal tender "forever," reported CNN.
King Charles III will continue to be featured on coins, which the Royal Australian Mint is expected to start producing "in the second half of this year," Andrew Leigh, the assistant minister for competition, charities, and the treasury, told ABC Radio in an interview.
The mint has said it expects to unveil the design of the first King Charles coins early this year.
Billions of bills and coins around the world featuring the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II are in the process of being replaced following her death last September.
The Queen's image is emblazoned on certain banknotes and coins across the Commonwealth -- an association of 54 countries, almost all of which were formerly colonized by the United Kingdom, reported CNN.
In Australia, the Queen's portrait "has been represented in every Australian banknote series since her coronation," through seven decades, according to the RBA.
Queen Elizabeth's death last year has reignited debate in Australia about its future as a constitutional monarchy. Voters narrowly chose to maintain the British monarch as its head of state in a 1999 referendum.
The decision also comes as Australia's center-left Labour government pushes for a referendum, required to alter the constitution, to recognise Indigenous people in the document, and require consultation with them on decisions that affect their lives.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is a long-standing republican but had said after the death of the queen in September it was "not a time" for a debate on the role of the monarchy in Australia. (ANI)