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Reserve Bank confirms it has printed millions of $50 notes with a spelling mistake

Jessica Cortis, May 12, 2019 7:00PM The Australian

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A current $50 note printed with the word "responsibility" spelt incorrectly in Sydney. Picture: AAP media_cameraA current $50 note printed with the word "responsibility" spelt incorrectly in Sydney. Picture: AAP

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The Reserve Bank of Australia has revealed the $2.3 billion of $50 banknotes printed with a spelling mistake will not be scrapped*, despite the error becoming public knowledge.

The nation’s new version of the $50 banknote, which was released in October last year, misspells the word “responsibility”  on 46 million notes in circulation*.

The RBA confirmed it first spotted the spelling error in December, five months before it came to public attention.

Where the spelling mistake is located on the $50 note. Picture: AAP media_cameraWhere the spelling mistake is located on the $50 note. Picture: AAP

The printing blunder* was discovered last week after a listener called Triple M radio station with a tip-off to alert others.

“Ten people stood at a wall looking at an image of the banknote from 5m away and it was the size of a kitchen table, and no one picked it (the error) up,” the listener told the radio station.

The yellow note features David Unaipon, an indigenous* writer and inventor, as well as Edith Cowan, Australia’s first female member of parliament.

The error can be found in the tiny text of Cowan’s first speech to parliament printed on one side of the note.

The Cowan phrase with the error in it reads: “It is a great responsibilty to be the only woman here, and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here.”

The word responsibility is missing the letter ‘i’.

An RBA spokesman confirmed there had been “around 400 million” $50 banknotes printed with the error, but only 46 million had been released.

A portion of the $50 showing Edith Cowan and her speech. Picture: AFP media_cameraA portion of the $50 showing Edith Cowan and her speech. Picture: AFP

He said the banknotes would not be withdrawn or recalled* as the spelling error does not affect their “validity* or functionality*” and they were still classified as legal money.

“The process of designing and printing a banknote is complex and iterative*,” the RBA spokesman said. “We have strict quality assurance processes but, like any manufacturing* process, errors can occur.

“We have reviewed our processes to remove the likelihood of such an error occurring in the future.”

Recent changes to the polymer* banknotes have already been rolled out with the $5 and $10 notes and include new security features to prevent counterfeiting*.

An RBA spokesman said the misprint* will be corrected for the next print run, which will happen mid-year.

Rare currency dealer Jim Noble, from Noble Numismatics, said it was the first time in its history the RBA had allowed a typo* through to circulation*.

“They do misprint notes but they’re individual happenings rather than the whole production,” Mr Noble said.

EDITH COWAN’S SPEECH ON THE NOTE
“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 …

If men and women can work for

the State side by side and represent all the different sections of the community, and

if the male members of the house would be satisfied to allow women to help them

and would accept their suggestions when they are offered, I cannot doubt that we

should do very much better work in the community than was ever done before.”

GLOSSARY

  • scrapped: thrown out
  • circulation: being used by the public
  • blunder: mistake
  • indigenous: native to a country
  • recalled: ordered back or bring back
  • validity: realness
  • functionality: how they are used
  • iterative: doing something again and again, usually to improve it
  • manufacturing: making something
  • polymer: a plastic type material
  • counterfeiting: producing something fake
  • misprint: something printed wrongly
  • typo: spelling mistake
  • circulation: public use

EXTRA READING

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. How many $50 notes have the spelling error?
  2. What is the name of the person whose speech is misspelt?
  3. How much are the incorrect $50 notes worth in total?
  4. Which other Australian appears on the $50 note?
  5. What does RBA stand for?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. The Speech
Read the words of Edith Cowan’s speech that are featured on the $50 note. Write a simple, easy to understand, 1-2 sentence summary of the speech.

Then comment on how you think attitudes have changed since the speech was given in Parliament, 98 years ago. Are some things different now? Are some things still the same?

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Civics and Citizenship, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Consider this sentence from the article:

An RBA spokesman said the banknotes would not be withdrawn or recalled as the spelling error does not affect their “validity or functionality” and they were still classified as legal money.

This statement explains why it is not necessary to withdraw or recall the notes, but there are probably different reasons why they are choosing not to. Can you think of other reasons (that have not been mentioned) why they would choose not to recall the notes? Write a couple of sentences to explain your thoughts.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
Noun Ninja
How many nouns can you find within your reading? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).

Could any of the nouns be up-levelled using a better synonym?


HAVE YOUR SAY: If you found one of the $50 notes with the spelling error, would you keep it as a historic souvenir?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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