The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Bill Shorten

Bill Shorten

Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services & Superannuation

14 September 2010 - 14 December 2011

Transcript of 27/06/2011

NO.005

Interview with Alex Sloan

666 ABC Canberra

3 February 2011

SUBJECTS: scrapping the five cent coin

Alex Sloan:

We are just waiting for Bill Shorten, the Assistant Treasurer to call in, we want to talk about his consideration of scrapping the five cent coin...because of high metal prices and inflation combined to threatened the five cent coin with extinction. Apparently the cost of making it now outstrips its face value. The person with the decision whether or not to keep it or scrap it is Bill Shorten, Assistant Treasurer, who joins me this morning. Thanks for taking our call. Hello.

Bill Shorten:

Hi Alex

Alex Sloan:

This is described as a water-cooler issue, the five cent coin, tell me about the decision you have to make on this, what you're considering.

Bill Shorten:

Well the Royal Australian Mint reports to the Government and they have advised us in recent times that, due to rising metal prices, the face value of the five cent coin is less than the cost of making the coin. It has obviously triggered some interest and debate. On the other hand, the Government has no current policy to scrap the five cent coin, we keep an eye on cost and obviously we are interested in public views on these matters.

Alex Sloan:

At the moment you can't use it for parking, phone, tolls, that sort of thing. Shopkeepers have to take it as legal tender of course.

Bill Shorten:

Well interestingly under the Currency Act 1965 if you present more than five dollars worth of five cent coins the shopkeeper doesn't even have to take it. Technology and cost livings has moved well beyond five cents. There are not a lot of items you could buy for five cents in the shop. I don't know if anyone has given their kids something after school sports or going to the fast food store, I hope that doesn't make me sound like a bad dad, but you can't get much for five cents.

Alex Sloan:

Well you don't sound like a bad dad at all Bill Shorten. It sounds like you've got a child in the background there have you?

Bill Shorten:

I do as a matter of fact, I'm back in Melbourne for once.

Alex Sloan:

Well we don't want to take your time away from...

Bill Shorten:

With the five cents the Government isn't going to rush any decision it is not Government policy to scrap it currently, if we did it would be years off. There are a couple of factors in favour of the old five cent coin. Apparently people often give their little coins they don't use to charity. Also there is an issue where people might be concerned that if you scrap the five cent coin everything with a five after it becomes a ten.

Alex Sloan:

Gets rounded up.

Bill Shorten:

While that wasn't really the case with the one and two cent coins and you still see the $19.99 bargains, you know objectively that one cent is not something you are going to see. Due to the rise of electronic and computer banking and processing of finances and credit cards, I think it is legitimate to say where do you go with these tiny coins which rip pockets.

Alex Sloan:

How much do charities get from donating their five cent coins? Do we know?

Bill Shorten:

Well we don't. I only know that by anecdote and observation. So that's one of things that we will take an interest in. Certainly as we are reforming the not-for-profit sector and a range of other, perhaps more substantial measures, we will be asking some of the charities the extent their business models rely on the five cent coin.

Alex Sloan:

I don't know if the Christmas Pudding is a consideration for you Bill Shorten.

Bill Shorten:

It is, but then again we went decimal in 1966 and up til then Christmas Puddings had always had shillings and the Christmas Pudding survived without the shillings, although there might be a few in circulation amongst Grandma’s Christmas Puddings. The five cent coin has been around, we've got no current plans to change it, but the fact of the matter it is costing more to make than it's worth.

Alex Sloan:

Just while I've got you I will quote this line to you 'People will get a tax cut from the Coalition at the next election. They will get a tax cut from us without a Carbon tax.'

Bill Shorten:

Well you were talking about pudding before, it seems to me that Tony Abbott is getting his economic policy from the Magic Pudding story. This guy is just making up things on the run.

Alex Sloan:

Meanwhile though the Lowy Poll has recorded that 75% of Australian's think that your Government has done a shocking job at selling the issue of Climate Change and putting in a Carbon tax.

Bill Shorten:

I know that our Prime Minister and our Government is committed to setting a price on carbon. Economic reforms aren't easy. The idea of doing nothing though is not an option. The idea which the Liberals are advancing that we will just give billions of dollars to large polluting companies as a reward for polluting. I think that when you look at all the serious options on offer, setting the price on carbon with an initial tax and then moving to an emissions trading system is the best option. I accept that some people would like to see more detail, and we will deliver that.

Alex Sloan:

Bill Shorten, Assistant Treasurer and father. Thank you so much and thanks for taking our call.