At a little after 10.30pm on Tuesday 3 June, Ross MacDiarmid from the Royal Australian Mint made his debut before the Senate Economics Legislation Committee.
The evening was proceeding smoothly, until NSW Labor Senator Sam Dastyari asked Mr MacDiarmid how much it costs the Mint to produce its coins. The following exchange is worth reproducing in full:
Senator Dastyari: I am going to ask you a very odd question: what does a $2 coin or a 50c coin actually cost to produce?
Mr MacDiarmid : A $2 coin will cost us around 20-odd cents to produce, and the 50c will be somewhere in the range of 12c to 15c.
Chair: What about a 5c coin?
Mr MacDiarmid : Six cents.
Chair: That is why I was asking—I did not know the answer, but I suspected it might be that.
Senator Dastyari: A 5c coin costs 6c to produce?
Senator Cormann: So there is obviously some scope for improved efficiencies.
Last year, the Royal Australian Mint produced 68.7 million 5c coins, which adds up to $3,435,000.
However, according to Mr MacDiarmid’s answer, these coins would have cost the Australian taxpayer $4,122,000, meaning we sustained a loss of $687,000.
What’s that old saying? Something about looking after pennies, and the pounds looking after themselves?
At least now we know where that budget black-hole is coming from!
William Shrubb, Research Assistant
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