Monday, 8 February 2016

1966: Introduction of decimal currency in Sydney

To mark fifty years since the introduction of decimal currency in Australia, I've got some clippings from The Daily Telegraph to shareas they reported on the changeover from the pound to the dollar in Sydney. They also had to assume the role of educator, with pages dedicated to explaining how the dollar worked including conversion rates from the pound.

  Introduction of Decmial Currency February 14 1966 daily telegraph  (1)

Decimal Currency February 14 1966 daily telegraph 10-14 (2)

People do like to be strict in terms of any changeover, but some decided to jump the gun. Railway ticket offices were issuing change in dollars and cents at 10pm the night before. When Sydneysiders woke up the next morning, life continued on as if nothing had happened. Banks were permitted to reopen after being closed for four days to prepare for the changeover, and while busy, experienced few problems.

There were some difficulties associated with the transition. For some it was an opportunity to profit. The Sydney Morning Herald on February 15 reported that a shop had increased the cost of sandwiches from 12 cents to 17 cents.

The transition period went through to 1968. Regulars to this site would note how some real estate advertisements from the remainder of 1966 and 1967 list prices in pounds. This was allowed under the transition. Stores also listed prices in pounds, shillings alongside dollars and cents.

Introduction of Decmial Currency February 14 1966 daily telegraph  (2)

The major newspapers were generally positive. I've included the editorial from The Daily Telegraph on February 14. It was seen as a "new age" for Australia and that it would bring long term benefit to the nation. The Sydney Morning Herald adopting the conservative view, wondered if the conversion would be worth it given the impact of decimalisation like the need to carry two currencies in the interim, supply of new currency and inflation. 

Over the years, there were changes to coins and notes. In 1969, the shape of the fifty cent coin was changed as it caused some confusion with twenty cent coins along with the cost of producing the coins itself. In 1984, the one dollar note was replaced with a coin, followed by the two dollar coin in 1988.  During the early 1990's, one and two cent coins were taken out of circulation, though can still be accepted for payment. There were some additions to banknote denominations. The $5 banknote was introduced in 1967, $50 banknote in 1973 and the $100 banknote in 1984

Between 1992 and 1996, new polymer banknotes were issued for all denominations to remove counterfeiting. This was pioneered by the Reserve Bank of Australia who created the banknotes in conjunction with the CSIRO and the University of Melbourne. The Reserve Bank is planning to update banknotes over the next few years.

On a global level, the Australian Dollar has grown to be one of the world's reserve currencies and one of the most actively traded, due to the stable nature of the economy.

And as a bonus, why not include two television advertisements including famous Dollar Bill and Company.