Coining It

It doesn’t happen often, but it’s always fun to get an update on some obscure page or post lurking in the archives of your website, newly discovered by some random surfer via the good offices of Google. Today’s heads-up concerned this 2001 rant about coin reform. Turns out that New Zealand has taken the initiative (while Australia takes its sweet bloody time) by shrinking its 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces and waving goodbye to the 5 altogether. Choice, cuzzes.

The plated steel coins look and feel much the same as the old coins, but they are lighter. They last almost as long as cupro-nickel coins. A bag of new coins weighs less than half that of the equivalent bag of old coins. In the year to 30 June 2004, it cost the Reserve Bank $3.5 million to issue 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. Downsizing and changing to plated steel will save the taxpayer annually about $3 million.

The old NZ fifty cent “was one of the largest circulating coins in the world”, which leaves the Australian fifty cent looking increasingly isolated. And with the Aussie fifty’s twelve-sided shape it’s probably even bigger than the old NZ fifty. The Reserve Bank should recall them all, sharpen their edges, and sell them to Japanese tourists as souvenir shuriken.

Extrapolating from the NZ figures, with five times the population Australia should save at least A$12.5 million a year by making a similar switch. If they’d done it when I told them (via the admittedly indirect route of the tongue-in-cheek web rant plus somebody in Canberra googling for it) the Howard government would have saved the nation over sixty million dollars. It’s all well and good to drone on about government waste when you’re in opposition or busy slashing thousands of public service jobs after winning your first election in sixteen years, but then you keep churning out manhole covers so you can fit pictures of weary diggers and Don Bradman on them or because that’s the size they were when Harold Holt was PM and just expect the battlers to lump it. Sure, thanks to low inflation the coins have only been losing about three percent in value every year, but that adds up to 25% since 1996: effectively, they’re 33% more oversized relative to their face value than when Howard took office. What does twenty cents buy you these days? A photocopy? Five minutes on a parking meter? For this you have to carry around enough metal to electroplate a statue of Bob Menzies?

Sorry. Someone dropped twenty cents into the slot labelled “rant”.

Anyway, I was highly amused to see that my old page is now the number one Google hit for coin reform, and commend its ravings to the House. Thanks, Eric.

9 August 2006 · Whatever

king rory, ahead of his time!

and what a great idea by the kiwis to get rid of the 5c as well. i wish the brits would get rid of the 1 and 2p... so annoying!

Added by shauna on 9 August 2006.

True! And they’re too big as well.

Added by Rory on 9 August 2006.

I'm SOOO leaving my NZ 50c coin in my bike pants pocket now - it's been through dozens of washes already. Shame that, for the life of me, I can't remember what it's in there for. Nothing in NZ costs a mere $0.50 now. Not even a 50c mix at a dairy...

Added by Naomi on 15 August 2006.

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