Australian dollar, Spelling error on Australian dollar, Reserve Bank of Australia
Australian dollar, Reserve Bank of Australia.

Australia has joined the league of countries with currency blunders after it was discovered that millions of currency notes printed by the country’s central bank,the Reserve Bank of Australia, carried a typographical error.

Although the spelling error is not very visible on the country’s new 50-dollar note which was released last year October, it was discovered six months later. However, by the time it was discovered, 46 million notes were already in circulation without the citizens being aware of the error.

Spelling error: It was discovered that the new 50-dollar notes carried the word ‘Responsibilty’ instead of ‘Responsibility’. The spelling is missing ‘i’, although you would need to have very good eyes or a magnifying glass to detect the mistake.

Australian dollar
A magnified view of a 50 Australian dollar note containing a typo. (Dylan Coker/EPA-EFE/REX)

The country’s banknote issuing authority has promised to replace the notes in circulation. However, it is yet to be known when exactly this will be done. Certainly, the replacement is not a one day job, neither is it a year’s job.

Value of the error: The 46 million notes in circulation is worth 2.3 billion Australian dollars, or 1.6 billion U.S. dollars. This is more than the country’s population which stands at nearly 25 million people.

What’s the Big deal: The word ‘responsibility’ on the new Australian 50-dollar notes is important because it is part of the inaugural speech by Edith Cowan who became Australia’s first female member of Parliament in 1921.

Cowan had said in a speech that:

“It is a great responsibility to be the only woman here, and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here.”

This achievement led to the country honouring her by inscribing her portrait and speech on the Australian banknotes in 1995.

Australia’s currency problem: Australia’s currency once generated debate among the country’s citizen after it was announced that there are plans to rename the Australian dollar to “the royal”. This ignited a wide-spread debate on the influence of Queen Elizabeth II in Australian. Authorities later reversed the decision.

History of currency blunders: Australia isn’t the first country to print currency notes with spelling errors.

  • When the Bank of Canada printed banknotes bearing the likeness of Queen Elizabeth II about seven decades ago, complaints were received after some people sighted a devil in her hair. The notes were then reworked in order to effect corrections.
  • In 2005, the name of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of Philippines was misspelled on the country’s currency. The error showed her last name ‘Arroyo’ was spelled as ‘Arrovo’. Despite the obvious error, authorities, at the time, said the notes were still valid. As a matter of fact, collectors were said to have coveted them.

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