Australian banknotes
New versions of Australia's $20, $50 and $100 notes have all come into circulation since 2018. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS

Billions of reasons bonkers banknote claim is wrong

William Summers April 5, 2023

No new banknotes have been printed in Australia or the US since 2018.


False. Reserve banks in Australia and the US have printed billions of new banknotes since 2018.

A failed NSW election candidate has tapped into conspiracy theories about cashless societies by claiming no new banknotes have been printed in the US or Australia since 2018. 

But the claim is false. More than one billion new banknotes have been printed in Australia since 2018, according to Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) data. US data similarly confirms billions of new banknotes have been printed in the same period.

The claim can also be disproved simply by looking at banknotes in your purse or wallet. New versions of the Australian $50, $20 and $100 notes came into circulation in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

The claim in question was made by David Graham, a serial misinformation spreader who goes by the nickname ‘Guru’. Mr Graham stood as an independent candidate in the 2023 NSW state election but was unsuccessful in his bid to win a spot in the NSW upper house. 

In a video posted to Facebook on March 31, 2023 (screenshot here), Mr Graham told his followers the last time a federal banknote was printed in the US was in 2018. 

“And I would believe that it was somewhere around that time that our (printing) mills went down here too. So the only currency that is out there is what’s out there. There is none (sic) getting printed” (video mark 3:40).

David Graham Facebook video
 David Graham has a history of spreading misinformation. 

Conspiracy theorists have repeatedly claimed a cashless society is imminent, which they say would allow the government to control people’s spending or track their movements (see for example here, here, here and here). 

Mr Graham did not respond when asked by AAP FactCheck for the basis of his claim. 

Australian polymer banknotes are manufactured by Note Printing Australia (NPA), a high-security printing subsidiary of the RBA. 

The RBA publishes detailed information about Australian banknote circulation in its annual reports. These reports show the NPA delivered 431m Australian banknotes in the financial year 2021/22, the most recent annual data available at the time of writing. This is more new banknotes than were printed in any other year this century. 

The 2021/22 order was composed of 40m $5 banknotes, 14m $20 banknotes, 221m $50 banknotes and 156m $100 banknotes.

By comparison, 234m Australian banknotes were printed in 2020/21, 331m in 2019/20 and 428m in 2018/19

The value of notes in circulation reached $102.3b at the end of June 2022, compared to a total circulation value of $53.6b a decade earlier.  

Reserve Bank of Australia
 More than one billion banknotes have been printed in Australia since 2018, according to RBA data. 

In the US, the federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) manufactures billions of new banknotes every year on behalf of the Federal Reserve central bank. 

A minimum of 4.5b notes will be printed in the 2023 financial year with a face value of at least $US166.5b, according to the Federal Reserve, with the actual volume and value of the order adjusted throughout the year “to best match available production with demand”.

Historical US currency print orders show the Federal Reserve ordered more than 26b notes with a combined value of at least one trillion US dollars since the beginning of the 2018/19 financial year. 

Anybody seeking further proof that new banknotes are still being printed in Australia should consider the fact the RBA has upgraded three denominations of existing notes with new designs since 2018.

In October 2018, the RBA released a new version of Australia’s $50 note that included upgraded security measures and a tactile raised dot feature to help vision-impaired people distinguish it from other banknote denominations. The previous version of the $50 note can be seen here for comparison.

US currency
 A minimum of 4.5b new US banknotes will be printed in the 2023 financial year. 

New versions of the $20 and $100 notes, which also incorporate upgraded security measures and raised dots, were circulated from October 2019 and October 2020 respectively. Previous versions of the $20 and $100 notes can be seen here and here

The RBA has also begun consultations about a new design for Australia’s $5 note.

All Australian banknotes previously issued by the RBA remain legal tender and can still be used.

The US is currently developing a new generation of high-security banknotes, scheduled to enter circulation between 2026 and 2034.

The Verdict

A claim that no new banknotes have been printed in Australia or the US since 2018 is false. 

Reserve banks in both countries have printed billions of new bank notes since 2018, according to publicly available data. 

New versions of Australia’s $20, $50 and $100 notes have all been issued since 2018, which include new features to improve security and assist people with impaired vision. 

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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