AUSTRALIAN BANK NOTES WHETHER IT IS THE PREROGATIVE OF THE RULING SOVEREIGN ALONE TO APPEAR IN EFFIGY ON THE NATIONAL CURRENCY
COMMONWEALTH BANK ACT 1911 ss 60A, 60G, 60H: AUSTRALIAN NOTES ACT 1910: COINAGE ACT 1909 s 8
The Assistant Secretary, Prime Minister’s Department, has forwarded for advice the question as to whether it is the prerogative of the ruling sovereign alone to appear in effigy on the national currency. It would appear, however, from the correspondence that the question to be immediately answered assumes the form–Is it the prerogative of His Majesty to have his image impressed on Australian notes?
‘Australian note’ is defined in the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911–1927, section 60A, as a note issued in pursuance of the Australian Notes Act 1910–1914, or in pursuance of this Act. In pursuance of section 60G of the same Act, the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank may issue Australian notes, which notes are by section 60H declared legal tender throughout the Commonwealth and throughout all Territories under the control of the Commonwealth. Section 60H also contains provisions with respect to the form of the note. Paragraph (c) in sub-section (1) enacts that Australian notes shall bear the promise of the Treasurer to redeem the notes in gold coin and sub-section (3) provides that the signature of the Secretary to the Treasury shall appear thereon.
These provisions appear to be exhaustive and in derogation of any prerogative, if such there be, of the ruling sovereign to order the impression of his effigy on an Australian note.
A distinction must be drawn between the coinage–metallic currency, or token money and paper money.
At common law the Crown enjoys the exclusive right of fixing the dimensions, designs, denominations … of the various coins (6 Halsbury 465). In the Commonwealth, this right with regard to dimensions and designs has, by the Coinage Act 1909, section 8, been transferred to the Governor-General, with the advice of the Federal Executive Council.
Paper money is in Australia the creation of statute and is, I think, only subject to those limitations set out in the statute of which it is the creature. Compliance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Bank Act 1911–1927 already referred to is all that is necessary to legalise the notes, and in this regard I am of the opinion that there would be no justification for importing any of the principles formerly affecting the coinage.
I am therefore of the opinion that it is not part of the prerogative of the ruling sovereign to have an imprint of his effigy made on Australian notes.
[Vol. 24, p. 82]