1 February 2001

Launch of NSW Centenary of Federation Coins, Sydney

Barrie Unsworth, Federal and State Members of Parliament, distinguished guests.

As the Minister responsible for the Royal Australia Mint and a very proud New South Welshman, I am honoured to officially launch the first coins and coin sets in the Government's State and Territories Coin Program.

And I am especially proud to unveil the first Australian circulating coin designed by an Australian school student.

Ladies and gentlemen, coins have been used for thousands of years to represent events of special significance.

In ancient times, royal families used coin designs to spread messages of victories, marriage and news affecting the population at large.

Amazingly, many of these coins survive today.

So, why did our ancestors communicate through coins? I suspect that it was because coins were items of every-day use, available and handled by almost every member of the population – their electorate so to speak.

Ancient coin designs convey to us the events of yesteryear – opening a gateway into the past.

And today's coin designs allow us to share with future generations what we value today, what we celebrate and what important developments shape us.

The Government decided that on coins dated 2001 there is no event more worthy of commemoration than that of our nation's 100th birthday – that is what we want future generations to remember about us as we go about our business in 2001.

As you've heard, throughout the year the Government will release a 20c student-designed coin and a 50c Coat of Arms coin for every State and Territory.

Today we launch the first of these coins – those dedicated to NSW, so let me describe them in detail.

The 20c coin was designed by Joseph Neve, from Bellingen High School in northern NSW, who was in year 10 last year when he produced his interpretation of what is special about his State.

In his design Joseph represented the Waratah – the NSW floral emblem – against a silhouette of the State of NSW. Within the design we also see the words Centenary of Federation and the date 1901-2001.

As a special touch, Joseph's initials have been incorporated into the design as evidence of his contribution to our nation's celebrations.

Ladies and gentlemen, coinage is crucial in reflecting the mood of a nation and reminding it, each and every day, of who it is and where it has been.

So it will be Joseph's designed 20c piece, which Australians will use now, and in the future, when putting coins into a parking meter, picking up a newspaper or buying a loaf of bread.

His design is simple and beautiful, and an outstanding piece of work by a young Australian.

Joseph, you have done an exceptional job of which you should be proud. I would like to congratulate you on this achievement on behalf of the people of Australia.

The second NSW coin to be released is a 50c piece which will bear the design of the NSW Coat of Arms

These two coins will appear in the special collector Three Coin Sets, the third coin being the $1 featuring the Centenary of Federation logo.

Now, I would like to ask Joseph to join me in unveiling his 20c coin design.