Topic: New designs for Australia's Polymer Banknotes  (Read 11915 times)
  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 495
« on: September 26, 2012, 02:41:58 pm »

First look at our potential new banknotes - and the untold tale behind their design

by: ADAM SHAND From:The Australian
September 27, 201212:00AM

Some of the potential new designs for Australia's banknotes. Source: The Australian...

THE Reserve Bank has been working on a top-secret project for five years to issue a new series of polymer bank notes for Australia at a cost so far of $9.3 million.

The Australian can reveal that the project, dubbed Next Generation Bank Note, has been mired in power struggles within the bank relating to cost overruns and delays that have left the currency upgrade more than two years behind schedule.

One Swiss designer was paid $300,000 for a series of designs rejected by Reserve Bank management.

The project began with ambitions of breathing new life into the currency after Reserve Bank research had shown that the majority of Australians could not name the faces on the national currency. The Australian has obtained a full set of concept banknotes from Melbourne designer Garry Emery, which were approved for further development in 2010.

Designers were briefed to capture "characteristics of Australia" with "youthful" and "energetic design qualities". They were supplied with new portraits depicting the subjects on the notes at earlier moments in their lives.

Controversially, the Reserve Bank toyed with the idea of removing the Queen from the $5 note in favour of the father of Federation, Henry Parkes, and Australia's first female political candidate, Catherine Helen Spence, who featured on a commemorative $5 note in 2001. It is understood that the Reserve Bank decided to stay with the Queen and returned to the other existing portraits in the middle of last year.

In 2009, then Reserve Bank assistant governor Bob Rankin said it would be controversial to choose new portraits but there were "some good reasons" to change, including a legal threat by a descendant of indigenous author and inventor David Unaipon, whose likeness appears on the $50 note.

Unaipon's great nephew, Allan "Chirpy" Campbell, has alleged the Reserve Bank paid for permission to use the image to the late Melva Linda Carter, who had falsely claimed to be Unaipon's daughter.

Mr Campbell said that he loved the newer portrait of his uncle. "It's deadly, but if they want to use it the Reserve Bank is going to have to renegotiate with the proper family," he said.

A spokesman for the Reserve Bank confirmed the existence of the banknote project in a statement to The Australian last night.

"Australia has experienced relatively low levels of counterfeiting for many years," it said.

"To ensure that this remains the case, the bank has been working for some time on a program that will result in an upgrade of Australia's banknotes. These upgraded banknotes will incorporate a number of new security features but most of the existing design elements such as the colour, size and portraits on the current banknote series will be unchanged."

Emery, a respected Melbourne designer who worked on the current Australian polymer notes, confirmed that he and his team were collaborating with the bank to incorporate fresh artwork and a range of updated security features into the polymer currency, which was progressively introduced between 1988 and 2002.

The bank spokesman said it was expected that it would be several years before the first of the upgraded banknotes would be issued. Other denominations would be issued progressively in subsequent years, he said.

Emery said the project was on track and the Reserve Bank had made only minor adjustments to the designs it had approved for further development in 2010.

Internal bank documents, obtained by The Australian, reveal that the bank was initially prepared to exclude Australian designers from working on the new series, opting instead for Swiss designer Alexander Fellmann, who asked for $464,000 to create a set of five banknotes.

Fellmann was recommended to the Reserve Bank by the Swiss-born chief executive of the bank's subsidiary Note Printing Australia, Bernhard Imbach, who lent his support to Fellmann's case.

The Reserve Bank confirmed that Mr Imbach and Fellmann had worked together on the redesign of the Swiss banknote series in the 1990s. According to briefing notes of a March 2009 meeting, Mr Imbach told the bank that the costs of hiring Fellmann were "reasonable considering the costs of hiring another designer is much more costly".

According to internal bank memos, Mr Imbach estimated that the cost of acquiring the services of noted banknote designer Roger Pfund at 500,000-600,000 Swiss francs ($517,000-$617,000) "for one design".

The Australian has learned that in 2006 the Reserve Bank contracted Pfund to provide a quote for developing a "benchmark concept" for a new $50 note. His asking price was 35,000 Swiss francs. A former insider said Pfund was overlooked for further work on the project in preference to Fellmann despite his seniority.

Fellmann's first involvement in the NGB project was in 2008, when he produced a benchmark for the $50 note design. He charged $48,000.

In a memo dated February 2009, a senior Reserve Bank manager, Tom Rohling, suggested NPA's estimate for Fellmann's costs was "10 times that of a single design, which is line with two full sets of designs".

He warned there were "significant risks associated with relying on just one designer for the NGB. The cost of Fellmann's work is substantial, and there is no guarantee that the designs will prove acceptable to the bank," he wrote. "In addition there may be some damage to the bank's reputation if an Australian designer is excluded from the design process."

In March 2009, Mr Imbach's choice of Fellmann was overruled by the bank, and two other designers were invited to quote on producing concept designs. Amanda Jones, a former designer with NPA, told the bank she would charge $50,000 while Emery submitted a quote of $160,000. The Reserve Bank spokesman said the bank had undertaken "a fair and rigorous assessment of the designers".

"These designers were chosen by the bank because they were experienced and well regarded in a highly specialised field," he said.

"The overseas banknote designer's experience and his previous relationship with the CEO of NPA was disclosed to the bank's management at the time."

Fellmann later dropped his estimate by half to $249,000, which he said did not include the costs of "banknotisation", for which he would charge extra.

According to a confidential Reserve Bank briefing note of August 2009, Jones reported to the bank that employees of NPA and its sister company Securency "had told her that her quote was considerably below that of the other two designers".

This had raised concerns confidential details had been passed on. No action was taken over the suspected breach, an insider told The Australian.

Contacted in Switzerland by The Australian, Fellmann declined to comment on his work, directing questions to the RBA.

A spokesman for Mr Imbach said he was on leave and could not respond to questions for a fortnight. In September 2009, when an RBA internal panel reviewed the preliminary work, Fellmann's designs were judged the weakest, the former insider said. They were rejected in mid-2010 but he was still paid nearly $300,000.

The RBA confirmed the three designers were paid about $550,000 in total.
  • Junior Member
  • **
  • Posts: 71
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 03:15:29 am »

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 495
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 08:46:37 am »

Media Release
Number 2012-27
Date 27 September 2012
Embargo For Immediate Release

Upgrading Australia's Banknotes
A core function of the Bank is to issue secure banknotes. Australia has one of the safest and most secure currencies in the world. It has experienced relatively low levels of counterfeiting for many years. To ensure that this remains the case, the Bank continually researches new anti-counterfeit technologies and developments in banknote design. In addition, over recent years, the Bank has had in place a program to upgrade the security of Australia's banknotes.

The upgraded banknotes will incorporate a number of new features that will mean Australia's banknotes will remain secure into the future. The banknotes will retain many of the key design elements of the current banknote series, such as the colour, size and portraits, but some design changes will be necessary to accommodate the new security features. 

Considerable work has already been undertaken on this project, including the development and review of banknote designs and production trials of new security features. But it is important that the new features are rigorously tested, durable and effectively incorporated into the banknote designs. The Bank will also consult extensively with relevant stakeholders to ensure that Australia's banknotes continue to meet community needs. As such, it is anticipated that it will be several years before the first of the upgraded banknotes will be issued.

Further details will be announced as they become available.


Media Office
Information Department
Reserve Bank of Australia
Phone: +61 2 9551 9720
Fax: +61 2 9551 8033
  • Very Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 935
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2012, 10:31:20 am »

Nice looking notes. Interesting how both the face and back are of similar design, leading one to ask which side is which. Reminds me of various Beatles singles released on 45s way back when - two A sides instead of an A and a B side.

Track your Canadian currency online!
  • Very Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 859
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2014, 12:41:49 am »

Very interesting article. Can't believe that counterfeit threat is still driving new designs. Interestingly enough they talk about quality control issues as well.

I wonder if some of the features they are thinking of are already the ones in the current Canadian polymer notes.

Wonder what paper money would say if it could talk?
  • Junior Member
  • **
  • Posts: 31
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2014, 02:07:39 pm »

Always something to learn about

Login with username, password and session length