A New Era – Polymer Currency Notes: 1988 Onwards
The Counterfeiting Threat
When the new decimal currency notes were introduced in 1966, they were thought to contain the most sophisticated security features available. However, a major counterfeiting threat emerged in December that year when forged $10 notes were discovered. The counterfeiting story was front-page news.
Forged $10 notes were used to make purchases at a string of small retail outlets. It was known as the 'Times Bakery' counterfeit because the horizontal lines on the Times Bakery building (on the back of the note) were not flush with the vertical edge of the building.
A Currency Squad was formed within the Australian Federal Police and the Reserve Bank offered rewards for information on counterfeiting.
The RBA also entered into a partnership with the CSIRO to devise new technology that would enhance the security of the note issue.
Research was propelled through the 1970s and 1980s by the increasing availability to the public of higher-quality reprographic technology.
Research to enhance the security of the note issue focused initially on developing a hologram-like Diffractive Optically Variable Device (DOVD). This was found to have better optical effects when applied to a smooth surface. This led to a decision to develop a polymer substrate with DOVD as the principal security feature.
The notes displayed are experimental notes from the 1970s; the experimental note at left carries an image of Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), the German missionary, physician and theologian.