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WATCH: How The Australian Dollar Changed The World

The year was 1988, and Australia stood aquiver on the brink of a world-changing advance. It had been 22 years since Australia had adopted decimal currency, changing its basic unit from the pound to the dollar, and while this had been successful overall, the decades had brought some major problems in the dollarydoo space.

Basically, the issue was this: Australian banknotes were, like others around the world, made from paper. This presented issues concerning the note’s fragility but most of all, its counterfeitability. The paper notes were a breeze for unscrupulous ne’er-do-wells to copy, and Australian commerce had suffered from a surfeit of fake notes. Not that this was restricted to Australia – every nation’s paper notes were similarly susceptible.

But it was Australia that stepped up and did something about it, in 1988 releasing the world’s first polymer currency. Polymer notes have massive advantages over the paper variety. They’re tougher, meaning you’re less likely to accidentally tear one or have an inept magician rip it up and not be able to put it back together. They last much longer than paper notes, meaning not as many need to be made, so production is cheaper. In comparison to many notes, like American banknotes, which are made mostly of cotton (?), they are far more environmentally friendly to produce.

But most of all, they’re damnably difficult to counterfeit. Polymer is a lot harder to replicate than paper, and the latest editions of Australia’s notes, with their holographic images and clear panels, are near-impossible to fake.

So it’s no wonder that since that great day in 1988, Australia’s invention has caught on around the world, with nation after nation adopting polymer notes and making our humble little island continent a genuine world leader in the currency game.

Check out the story of Australia’s notes in this video, which elaborates just what makes our notes so special, and just how the world of currency is so vastly different thanks to Aussie knowhow.

About the author

About the author
CONTRIBUTOR

Ben Pobjie

Ben Pobjie is an accomplished author, commentator and columnist who specialises in studies of Australian history and culture. A prolific writer, Ben’s work has appeared The Age, New Matilda, King's Tribune, Crikey, The Roar, Meanjin, GQ, Mamamia, The Punch and many others. He also has several books to his name, having published titles Superchef, Surveying the Wreckage, and The Book of Bloke. Additionally, Ben’s work has spilled into the realm of television and comedy, writing for You Have Been Watching on Foxtel and The Unbelievable Truth on Channel Seven, with the media expert appearing frequently on ABC radio, Triple R, 3CR and 2SER.