Emails have revealed the moment the Reserve Bank of Australia was first alerted to a glaring typo on the A$50 note.

A member of the public alerted the RBA to the error on December 20 last year.

"So is this meant to be a new security feature that is not mentioned on your web page about the new A$50 note — or did someone not check the spelling of 'responsibility' before sending these to print?" the person inquired by email. "It is spelt wrong all the way thru (sic) microprint!"

A member of the public alerted the RBA to the error on the $50 note via email last December. Photo / Supplied
A member of the public alerted the RBA to the error on the $50 note via email last December. Photo / Supplied

RBA governor Philip Lowe was "relatively relaxed" about the mistake, according to internal correspondence released under a Freedom of Information request.


"I spoke to Phil about this," Chris Aylmer, head of risk and compliance at the Reserve Bank of Australia, said in a December 21 email, referring to Lowe. "He was relatively relaxed — the functionality of the note has not changed and it is still legal tender."

Employees at Note Printing Australia, the printer of the currency, were said to be "mortified that the error occurred.

In the phrase "it is a great responsibility to be the only woman here", the word "responsibility" is misspelt as "responsibilty" — three times.

The new A$50, which entered circulation last October, is similar to the old A$50 with portraits of Aboriginal author David Unaipon and Edith Cowan, the first female member of Australian Parliament.

It features new security features and tactile elements to aid the vision-impaired.

"This latest and important upgrade not only marks a hugely significant step towards equal access to society for people who are blind or have low vision, but also incorporates new, innovative security features that further protect against counterfeiting," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said at the time.

"The application of the tactile features to the A$50 note is particularly important given that it's the most widely circulated banknote, with 46 per cent of all banknotes in circulation being the A$50 note."

He added: "I believe, the implementation of the tactile features would have made David Unaipon and Edith Cowan proud."


The full excerpt from Cowan's speech, which repeats, reads, "I stand here today in the unique position of being the first woman in an Australian parliament. 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 different sections of the community, I cannot doubt that we should do very much better work in the community than was ever done before."

An RBA spokesman said, "The Reserve Bank of Australia is aware of it and the spelling will be corrected at the next print run."

He confirmed there had been "around 400 million" A$50 banknotes printed with the error, with 46 million already in circulation.

"The next print run will commence around the middle of the year," he said.

"It is the first print run of the A$50 banknote we have done since the error was detected. These banknotes will be ready to be released into circulation around the end of the year."