Australia prints typo on about $1.6 billion worth of $50 notes

Published: May. 9, 2019 at 4:24 PM EDT
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May 9, 2019

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) printed about 46 million new $50 bills last year, but only recently a radio station noticed a typo on the money, The Guardian reports. The word "responsibility" is incorrectly spelled on about $1.6 billion worth of currency. That doesn't sound very responsible.

The RBA announced the new $50 note design in February 2018. The new note honors Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon and the first female member of an Australia's parliament, Edith Cowan. Printed on the back of the note is an excerpt from a speech by Cowan, and one from a book by Unaipon.

However, one powerful line from Cowan's speech falls flat on the notes; in extremely tiny print, "great responsibility" is spelled "great responsibilty" -- not just once but three times. Australia's Triple M radio magnified the relevant part of the note and highlighted the spelling mistake. Their Instagram post quickly went viral.

The 46 million bills with the typo will remain legal tender and continue to circulate around Australia. The RBA, Australia's central bank, is "aware of it and the spelling will be corrected at the next print run," a spokesperson told The Guardian. CBS News reached out to the RBA for comment but was still awaiting a response on Thursday.

In the meantime "responsibilty" is taking the internet by storm.

Cowan's speech, delivered in 1921, was a landmark moment in Australia. In it she discussed the significance of her role as the first woman elected to Parliament.

"It is a great responsibility to be the only woman here," she said, "and I want to emphasise the necessity which exists for other women being here."