The debate surrounding who should be featured on the Australian $5 note in the wake of the death of Queen Elizabeth II has intensified of late.
Last month, Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said King Charles III may not necessarily replace his mother on the new banknote, although coins will.
Australians have been petitioning to put the face of Steve Irwin, a conservationist, wildlife expert and environmentalist who died in 2006, on the new $5 note instead of King Charles III.
Two petitions, started by Irwin fans, Vincent Wu and Kirby Miles, have been campaigning to immortalize the TV celebrity known as the ‘Crocodile Hunter,’ arguing there is no one “more vital to Australian culture” or “beloved.”
“This should not be seen as a step away from the crown, but as a step towards honouring a beloved Aussie hero,” Wu’s petition stated.
Miles’ petition states:
“The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III raises an important question about the future of Australian currency. Australia achieved full sovereignty from the British on January 1, 1901, and has since developed a rich and diverse culture of its own.”
Kirby Miles stated under the petition reason subheading:
“We propose keeping all existing $5 notes featuring Queen Elizabeth II in circulation and introducing a new $5 note honouring Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin.”
Both petitions are listed on the Australian Parliament House website.
‘Vital to Australian Culture’
Back in 2016, another Steve Irwin fan created a petition to feature him on the $100 note. Irwin was killed on September 4, 2006, after he was stabbed in the chest by the barb of a stingray while filming in the Great Barrier Reef. He remains massively popular in the country.
However, at the time, the petition attracted more than 31,000 signatures, but it was not enough to allow Irwin to be substituted for the faces of opera singer Dame Nellie Melba and military commander Sir John Monash.
The debate over which famous faces should appear on the country’s currency was reignited after the death of Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th. The late monarch’s portrait was introduced on the first polymer $5 note in 1992 and then again in 2016.
Last month, Australia’s Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said King Charles III, who has taken over the British throne after his mother’s death, may not necessarily replace her image on the new $5 note, although coins will. Leigh said it was “a matter of tradition” for the incumbent monarch to feature on Australian coins.
“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,” he told reporters in September.
So far, Wu and Miles’ petitions have gained a collective 42 signatures.