PM shuts down reporter over $5 note question: 'Her funeral is Monday'

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has sought to shut down a growing debate about the future of the $5 note in the wake of the Queen's passing.

During a press conference on Wednesday in which he announced paid pandemic leave would continue indefinitely while isolation mandates remained, the PM was asked about the growing debate circulating about the banknote and its future appearance.

"Can I ask about the $5 note, what is your view about what should happen with it?" the reporter asked.

In response, Mr Albanese appeared in no mood to entertain the discussion.

The PM has shot down efforts to draw his opinion on who should feature on the $5 note.
The PM has shot down efforts to draw his opinion on who should feature on the $5 note. Source: ABC

"My view is that Queen Elizabeth's funeral is next Monday," he said.

"Queen Elizabeth's funeral is next Monday," he repeated. "My focus isn't on who is on the $5 note."

It was the second day in a row the PM was asked about the issue. On Tuesday when a reporter asked whether an Australian figure should replace the Monarch on the note, Mr Albanese appeared to suggest it was disrespectful to raise the debate at this time, instead calling for "a bit of respect".

"We will deal with these issues appropriately, in an orderly way, in a way that is respectful, so I have not turned my attention towards that matter," Mr Albanese said.

It comes as the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) pushes for the change to the $5 note, while also urging the government to reconsider using King Charles III’s image on coins from next year.

While the ARM has suspended its campaign for Australia's constitutional independence as a sign of respect for those mourning the Queen's death, the issue of who appears on the nation's currency will be the "first point of order" when campaigning recommences, The Australian reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Assistant Treasury Minister Andrew Leigh said the federal government had yet to make a decision on who should appear on the country's lowest denomination banknote.

"It's a conversation that will take place in government, there's no rush about it," Dr Leigh told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"The priority now is changing over the coins [to feature King Charles III] which is a much larger operation."

While an exact date has yet to be confirmed, the first coins with the new king on them will be minted in 2023. Coins bearing the silhouette of the head of the Queen on them will remain in circulation and will still be legal tender.

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia Museum, Queen Elizabeth II first appeared on the Australian $5 note in 1992 when the bank released the first of its new series of polymer banknotes which coincided with the 40th anniversary of her accession to the throne.

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