The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Bank Governor Philip Lowe have announced that the new $20 banknote will be released into general circulation on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. While they will soon be shipped around the country in time for release, as with any new banknote it will take time for them to be widely available. Existing $20 banknotes can continue to be used, as all previously issued banknotes remain legal tender.
The Governor noted in his statement to the Australian House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics that the release is a big logistical exercise, with more than 170 million $20 banknotes in circulation. The Reserve Bank has been working closely with manufacturers and businesses that use cash-handling machines to help them prepare for the new banknotes.
The new $20 banknote features portraits of two Australians known for their enterprise and ingenuity. Mary Reibey was a convict who became a successful businesswoman, and Reverend John Flynn pioneered the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The banknote also includes new security features, such as a rolling color effect and a top-to-bottom window included on the new $5, $10 and $50 banknotes issued over the past three years as part of the upgrade of Australia’s banknotes.
It is expected that the $100 banknote will be released next year.
Design of the New $20
Mary Reibey arrived in Australia as a convict but soon broke out of rigidly defined social norms to earn a reputation as an astute and successful businesswoman running her shipping and trading enterprises. She also became known for her support of charity, religion, and education. Reibey’s story is illustrated on the new $20 banknote through an image of a Port Jackson schooner in Sydney Cove in the early 1800s, similar to the type owned by Mary Reibey. Beside it is a traditional Eora nowie (canoe). Aboriginal women fishing from these vessels were a common sight on the harbor in Reibey’s time.
John Flynn pioneered the world’s first aerial medical service in 1928, now known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), to spread a ‘mantle of safety’ across 7.65 million square kilometers of outback. Today, it remains the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical emergency and healthcare service in the world. His stories are told through an RFDS De Havilland aircraft leaving a remote Broken Hill homestead in 1948 and a pedal-powered transceiver used by the service to improve communication in remote areas.
The Governor also said of the new banknote: “Improved security and ease of recognition are important characteristics of the new $20 banknote. The same innovative security features from the previously released $5, $10 and $50 banknotes have been incorporated to help keep them secure from counterfeiting.”
These features include a top-to-bottom clear window that contains dynamic elements, including a flying kookaburra that moves its wings and changes color, and a reversing number ‘20’. There is also a patch with a rolling-color effect and microprint featuring excerpts from Flynn’s book The Bushman’s Companion (1916) and the names of Reibey’s ships. As with the $5, $10 and $50, the new banknote includes representations of a wattle and a native bird. The $20 features Acacia buxifolia and a Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae).
The Reserve Bank continues to work closely with banknote equipment manufacturers and retailers to help them prepare ATMs and other banknote authenticating machines to handle the new $20 banknote. This has included the distribution of test notes to allow manufacturers and owners of these machines to update their equipment. The design is being released today to facilitate this ongoing work with the industry as well as staff training to ensure a smooth transition when the banknotes are released later this year.
The new banknotes also have a ‘tactile’ feature to help people who are blind or who have low vision to distinguish between different denominations of banknotes. On the $20 banknote, this is three raised bumps on each of the long edges of the banknote.