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Australian dollar
Australian dollar  (English)
ISO 4217 Code AUD
Official user(s)  Australia
Unofficial user(s)  Cambodia
 Gambia
 New Caledonia (France)
 Papua New Guinea
 Solomon Islands
 Tonga
 Vanuatu
 Zimbabwe
Inflation 1.3% (Australia only)
Source Reserve Bank of Australia, September 2018.
Pegged by Tuvaluan dollar and Kiribati dollar at par
Subunit
1/100 cent
Symbol $, A$, AU$
cent c
Coins
Freq. used 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1, $2
Rarely used 1c, 2c
Banknotes
Freq. used $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
Rarely used $1, $2
Printer Note Printing Australia
2016 Australian five dollar note obverse
$5 Australian note
Australian $10 polymer front
$10 Australian note
Australian $20 polymer front
$20 Australian note
Australian $50 polymer front
$50 Australian note

The Australian dollar (AUD) is the official currency of the Commonwealth of Australia. It has been in use since February 14, 1966. The Australian dollar is also used on Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island, and the independent Pacific Islands of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu. In Australia the dollar symbol $ is usually used. The signs A$ or AU$ are often used to show that it is the Australian dollar. It is subdivided into 100 cents.

In 2011 the Australian dollar was the fifth-most-traded currency in world. The most traded currencies were the US dollar, the Euro, the yen, and the pound sterling.

The Australian dollar is liked by people who trade in currencies. This is because Australia has high interest rates and little government control on currency trading. Australia's economy and political systems are also seen to be stable.

History

The dollar was introduced on 14 February 1966, replacing the Australian pound.

Early moves towards decimalisation

Before the adoption of the current Australian dollar in 1966, Australia's currency was the Australian pound, which like the British pound sterling was divided into 20 shillings and each shilling was divided into 12 pence, making a pound worth 240 pence. The Australian pound was introduced in 1910, at parity with the pound sterling. Its value diverged from the pound sterling in 1931 after the currency devaluation.

In 1902, a select committee of the House of Representatives, chaired by George Edwards, had recommended that Australia adopt a decimal currency with the florin as its base.

In 1937, the Banking Royal Commission appointed by the Lyons Government had recommended that Australia adopt "a system of decimal coinage … based upon the division of the Australian pound into 1000 parts".

Adoption of the dollar

In February 1959, Treasurer Harold Holt appointed a Decimal Currency Committee, chaired by Walter D. Scott, to examine the merits of decimalisation. The committee reported in August 1960 in favour of decimalisation and recommended that a new currency be introduced in February 1963, with the adoption to be modelled on South Africa's replacement of the South African pound with the rand. The Menzies Government announced its support for decimalisation in July 1961, but delayed the process in order to give further consideration to the implementation process. In April 1963, Holt announced that a decimal currency was scheduled to be introduced in February 1966, with a base unit equal to ten shillings, and that a Decimal Currency Board would be established to oversee the transition process.

A public consultation process was held in which over 1,000 names were suggested for the new currency. In June 1963, Holt announced that the new currency would be called the "royal". This met with widespread public disapproval, and three months later it was announced that it would instead be named the "dollar".

The Australian pound was replaced by the Australian dollar on 14 February 1966 with the conversion rate of A$2 = A£1. Since Australia was still part of the fixed-exchange sterling area, the exchange rate was fixed to the pound sterling at a rate of A$1 = 8 U.K. shillings (A$2.50 = GB£1). In 1967, Australia effectively left the sterling area, when the pound sterling was devalued against the US dollar and the Australian dollar did not follow. It maintained its peg to the US dollar at the rate of A$1 = US$1.12.

Coins

Australian one dollar coin
Australian one dollar coin which went into circulation in 1984

From 1966, coins were made in amounts of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. One-dollar coins were made from 1984. Two-dollar coins were made from 1988. The one- and two-cent coins were not made after 1991 and are no longer used. Cash sales are made to the nearest five cents. All coins have the image of the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II on the back. They are made by the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.

Australia has often made special 50-cent coins. The first was in 1970, to honor Captain Cook's finding the east coast of Australia. In 1977 a coin was made for Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. In 1981 a coin was made for the wedding of Charles and Diana. The Brisbane Commonwealth Games had a special coin in 1982. Another one was made for the Australian Bicentenary in 1988. There have been many more special coins made since the 1990s. They are popular with people who collect coins. Australia has also made special 20-cent and one-dollar coins.

Australia has made special five-dollar coins, of aluminium/bronze and bi-metal, and many silver and gold bullion coins in bigger values. These are not normally used, although they are legal tender.

Current Australian 5-, 10- and 20-cent coins are the same size as the old Australian, New Zealand and British sixpenny, shilling and two shilling (florin) coins. In 1990. the UK replaced these coins with smaller versions, as did New Zealand in 2006 - at the same time discontinuing the five-cent coin. The Australian 50-cent coin is a large coin. It weighs 15.55 grams and is 31.51 mm across.

Table

Australian coins
Image Value Technical parameters Description Date of first minting
Obverse Reverse Diameter Thickness Weight Composition Edge Obverse Reverse
Australian 1c Coin.png 1c
(no longer used as of 1991)
17.65 mm >1.4 mm 2.60 g 97% copper
2.5% zinc
0.5% tin
Plain Queen Elizabeth II Feathertail glider 1966
Australian 2c Coin.png 2c
(no longer used as of 1991)
21.59 mm <1.9 mm 5.20 g Frill-necked lizard
Australian Five Cents Rev.png 5c 19.41 mm 1.3 mm 2.83 g Cupronickel
75% copper
25% nickel
Reeded Queen
Elizabeth II
Echidna 1966
Australian 10c Coin.png 10c 23.60 mm 2.0 mm 5.65 g Superb lyrebird
Australian 20c Coin.png 20c 28.65 mm 2.5 mm 11.3 g Platypus
Australian 50c Coin.png 50c Dodecagon 31.65 mm (across flats) 2.5 mm 15.55 g Plain Coat of arms 1969
Australian $1 Coin.png $1 25.00 mm 2.8 mm 9.00 g 92% copper
6% aluminium
2% nickel
Interrupted
milled
Queen
Elizabeth II
Five kangaroos 1984
Australian $2 Coin.png $2 20.50 mm 3.0 mm 6.60 g Aboriginal elder and Southern Cross 1988
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