A debate has flared up in Australia surrounding whose iconic faces should feature on the nation’s money. According to the New York Post, petitioners Vincent Wu and Kirby Miles have launched two campaigns to have “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin appear on the $5 note. They aim to replace King Charles III’s picture on the lowest denomination note with that of the Australian naturalist, wildlife expert, and TV celebrity.
After Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh disclosed that the next monarch might not necessarily replace his mother on the $5 note in how new coins represent him, their wishes could come true. Leigh explained, “The decision to include the Queen’s face on the $5 note was about her personally rather than about her status as the monarch, so that transition [to Charles on the note] isn’t automatic.” His statement implies that anyone with ideas for the next person to feature on the $5 note is welcome to submit them.
The $5 paper bank note, which featured Sir Joseph Banks and Caroline Chisholm, was initially printed in 1967, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The nation’s first $5 polymer note was released in 1992 and featured an image of Queen Elizabeth II. Then, in 2016, it was refreshed with the same picture but with enhanced security measures. A fourth version of the $5 note was issued in 2001 to mark Australia’s 100th anniversary of Federation and featured Sir Henry Parkes and Catherine Helen Spence.
Wu and Miles’ petitions are listed on the Australian Parliament House website and have garnered 42 total signatures. On the petition, Miles said, “The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III raises an important question about the future of Australian currency.” He added, “We propose keeping all existing $5 notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II in circulation and introducing a new $5 note honouring Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin.” Wu also claimed no one was “more vital to Australian culture” than Steve Irwin.
In 2016, another fan started a change.org campaign to promote the idea of having Irwin on the $100 note. While the petition got more than 31,000 signatures, it wasn’t enough to replace Sir John Monash or Dame Nellie Melba, who currently appear on the $100 note.