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Thursday, 3 December 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [9.16].- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Government has decided to issue a crown-piece to commemorate the coronation of His Majesty King Edward VIII., and as our Coinage Act does not provide for the issue of an Australian coin of this denomination, it becomes necessary to amend that act in order to implement the decision of the Government. The proposed amendment of the act for that purpose also presents an opportunity to alter the remedy allowance in connexion with the minting of our silver coins. This is the first occasion on which a crown-piece has been issued in our currency. It is. of course an old coin in England, having been issued first in 1551, during the reign of Edward VI. The English crown-piece has, since the time of Charles II., generally had an inscription on the edge, the practice of edge lettering having been adopted in those earlier days to prevent clipping of the coin. That practice was changed in 1927, when the British crown was issued with a milled edge. The Government proposes to adopt the milled edge for the Australian coin. The obverse design will, of course, be the King's head.For the reverse, a crown has been chosen as the most suitable design. The crown will be surrounded for three-quarters of the periphery of the coin by the lettering " Commonwealth of Australia " and underneath the crown will appear the words " one crown ".

The alteration proposed in the remedy allowance will bring our practice into line with that of European countries, and with that adopted for the new coinage recently minted for the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The remedy allowance, as honorable senators probably know, is the amount by which coins are legally allowed to vary above or below the standards of weight or fineness. Under the existing law, the remedy applies to individual coins, so that coins which are only barely heavier or barely lighter than the weights allowed by the remedy have to be melted down. The amendment now submitted, which has been suggested by the Deputy-Master of the Royal Mint, Melbourne, will enable the remedy to be applied in bulk, thus saving individual coins which are only slightly outside the remedy at present prescribed. It is proposed to apply this bulk remedy to the minting of silver and bronze only. The gold coins will be tested for weight and fineness in regard to each coin, as at present provided for in the Coinage Act.

The bulk remedy allowance as set forth in the schedule which, as I have said, will apply to silver and bronze only, means, for example, that instead of weighing individual coins, the coins will be weighed in bulk. In regard to, say, the florin, the allowable variation in weight will be the weight of one florin in 175 such coins. The bill is a simple measure, and I believe its main purpose will appeal to honorable senators.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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