Australia in the 1960s

Decimal currency

On 14 February 1966, the first banknotes of Australia's new decimal currency were issued. A keen monarchist, Robert Menzies had wanted to call the new unit 'the Royal', but this was met with little enthusiasm. The name of the currency issue became the 'dollar'.

The decision to change to decimal currency provided a challenging opportunity to design a completely new series of coins incorporating typically Australian motifs. The 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 dollar denominations for notes were chosen on the belief that they represented the best combination to make up any given amount with the least number of notes.

A snapshot of 1968

  • January
    • Senator John Gorton becomes prime minister after the disappearance of Harold Holt, presumed drowned off Portsea, Victoria.
    • The Tet Offensive is launched during the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese troops attempt to take significant South Vietnamese strongholds in the one offensive action.

  • February
    • The Draft Resistance Movement is formed. They declare that the group not only opposes conscription, but intends to destroy it.
    • WC Wentworth is appointed the first minister for Aboriginal Affairs, although he has no department under his control.

  • May
    • A mineral investment boom begins on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).
    • The Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi visits Australia.

  • December
    • The breathalyser test for drink-driving is introduced in NSW.


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