Reserve Bank of Australia

The Reserve Bank and Reform of the Currency: 1960–1988

The Royal Controversy

A big decision concerned the name of the new currency unit.

Views varied widely from traditional labels such as 'pound' and 'dollar' to more distinctively Australian names such as 'Austral'.

A public naming competition seeking suggestions 'with an Australian flavour' added nearly 1,000 names to this list including such exotic suggestions as 'Oz', 'Boomer', 'Roo', 'Kanga', 'Emu', 'Koala', 'Digger', 'Zac', 'Kwid', 'Dinkum' and 'Ming' (the nickname of Prime Minister Menzies).

Image showing the front of a ten royal note

In June 1963, with no clear consensus having emerged on a name, the Government decided to name the new currency the 'Royal'. Treasurer Harold Holt explained that the Government saw this name as 'emphasising our link with the Crown' and as being 'a dignified word with a pleasing sound.'

Between June and September 1963, the Bank's Note Printing Branch developed a variety of design concepts for the Royal notes.

Image showing the front design of a one royal note Image showing the front design of a one royal note

Some of the designs were simple adaptations of the existing 1953/54 10 shilling note. Most of the notes were not developed beyond the stage of sketches, stylised images and basic colour schemes.

Image showing the front of a twenty royal note Image showing the back of a twenty royal note

An interesting feature of some of these note designs is that they were labelled as Reserve Bank of Australia notes, rather than Commonwealth of Australia notes.

The Royal designs were not completed because of widespread opposition to the name 'Royal' for the new currency.

Just three months after announcing the 'Royal' decision the Government conceded on 19 September 1963 that the name of the currency unit would be the 'Dollar'. This decision won quick and general public approval.