Coin Reform!

People of Australia, I have a dream. A dream of a country where purses aren't blunt instruments and fob-pockets don't twist your spine out of shape. Where a block of frozen water on a stick isn't worth five hefty lumps of metal. Where an actual coin is smaller than its chocolate equivalent. I have a dream—of coin reform!

Anyone who has returned from a few happy weeks touring foreign lands knows the feeling. Just when you've got used to a pocket full of tiny dimes, lightweight lire, and microscopic mungo beads, you come back here to a pocketful of platypus pewter. It's a good thing you've built up your muscles carrying suitcases, because you're sure gonna need 'em.

It's ridiculous. Okay, it made sense back when they were introduced: in 1966 twenty cents bought you a slap-up meal for six and a new Kelvinator, and fifty was a solid down-payment on a Holden. But in 2001? Our third-lowest coin is bigger than some of the stone discs they carry around in Yap.

Well, I've had enough. The campaign for change starts here. Coin reform! You know it makes sense. Why, if I had a dollar coin for every time I cursed the weight in my pocket, I could melt them into a nugget the size of the Welcome Stranger—and I've only done it twice.

Yes, this will be unpopular with some. In a lot of old folk's eyes, changing the money is worse than stealing it . But I'm anticipating strong support from the elderly, who must be sick of buying codger carts just to haul the price of The Age down to the newsagents.

And while it may be a break with tradition, it's not like other countries haven't shown us the way. If the UK can shrink its coins down to a size that matches their buying power, so can we. Australia leads the field in nanotechnology.

But if we're going to change our change, let's do it right: not just shrink it, but redesign it completely. Why not follow the Chinese, whose ancient coins were stylised knives? Imagine Aussie coins modelled on tools. A 1/64" spanner. A tiny lawnmower. A thimble-sized stubby holder. We could recycle old Monopoly counters. How appropriate.

I'd go even further. We have plastic notes; why not plastic coins? Change the colour for different denominations, slap the value in the middle, add a few bars around the edge to pretty them up, and hey presto! New currency.

Best of all, our casinos would save a fortune in making new chips. And we'd all save thousands of hours of lining up to change coins for them. After all, that's where most of them end up anyway.

Spenders of Australia unite! You have nothing to lose but your change.


Written for The Age Funny Short Story Competition, 27 February 2001.
This page: 23 April 2001.

©2001 Rory Ewins