QEII belongs on our coins in perpetuity

The longevity of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch raises some curious issues. Hardly anyone under 50 in Australia remembers pre-decimal currency. ALL decimal coins have featured QE II on one side. Admittedly the “model” has been updated throughout the years but for those who cry out “heads” at the start of a sporting match are hoping to see the Queen’s profile.

QE II has in fact been the queen since 1952, so hardly anyone under 70 will have ever spent an Australian coin that did not feature the Queen.

I have a suggestion. When the Queen gets to 60 years as the reigning monarch, then I think it should be formalised that her likeness should stay on our coinage in perpetuity, including even if or when Australia ever becomes a republic.

Why do I lobby for this option? For at least another 60 years or so there will be people around who will only ever have known her as monarch. The sight of Charles or even William on the currency may just be too much for many to take. And should Australia become a Republic, I don’t see a great demand for successive short term Presidents to appear on the currency. For all of these successive monarchs or heads of state I would authorise a run or series of postage stamps but that’s it.

So, why keep a person’s head on coins at all? Well, we need a “heads” on a coin to distinguish heads from tails. The technical terms, obverse and reverse are hardly going to catch on at the toss at the tennis, cricket or football. And who can remember which one is the obverse and which one is the reverse anyway? Heads and tails is so much easier and with the monarch’s head on one side, is a concept that even the youngest of children will intuitively understand.

The other reason to give QE II perpetual rights over the “heads” side of our coins is that some time in the next 20 to 50 years, coins are likely to become curiosities which are only of interest to collectors and as keepsakes for those who grew up with them. For around twenty years we have had phone cards for use in public telephones. Phone cards are simply one limited form of a stored value card. Limited because they are only usable in public telephones. Come to think of it, public telephones are on the decline with the ubiquity of relatively low cost mobile phones.

Stored value cards are already common in various public transport systems around the world. These types of cards are also being adapted for other small purchases such as parking meters and low value purchases from vending machines and at convenience stores, news agencies and the like.

By 2040 we are unlikely to ever need coins again and to thank her for her longevity we should honour Queen Elizabeth II with the distinction of being the last person to ever grace our coins.


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