Independent MP Craig Kelly has printed out his own cash to provide the Australian people with a visual representation of the record debt levels the nation has been burdened with due to pandemic spending. https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.462.0_en.html#goog_1725485980PlayMuteLoaded: 15.08%Remaining Time -4:05Quality Levels Renegade former Liberal […]
Independent MP Craig Kelly has printed out his own cash to provide the Australian people with a visual representation of the record debt levels the nation has been burdened with due to pandemic spending.
Renegade former Liberal MP Craig Kelly could have broken intellectual property laws when he printed novelty $1 trillion bills, according to legal and banknote experts.
Mr Kelly held a press conference on Tuesday in front of a pallet of fake $1 trillion banknotes in an attempt to draw attention to state and federal government debt, which he said was approaching $1 trillion.
However, experts say the Member for Hughes’ reproductions may put him at odds with the Copyright Act (1968), which is one of the two pieces of legislation governing the creation of images of Australian banknotes.
Richard Fahy, managing director of banknote specialist The Right Note, was not impressed by Mr Kelly’s stunt.
“To my way of thinking, Mr Kelly has breached many Commonwealth laws,” he said.
“The Reserve Bank guidelines are legally clear: no reproductions of existing banknotes can be made. To do so is a breach of Commonwealth copyright laws, as administered by the Reserve Bank.”
Ashurst partner Nina Fitzgerald said Mr Kelly’s reproductions appeared to have copied the $100 banknote’s “lyrebird window” along with some font and text, including the word “Australia”.
“Treating these as separate elements, there has been a copying of a substantial part,” she said, but noted that the Member for Hughes could claim parody or satire as a defence.
Mr Kelly’s reproductions appear to violate several aspects of the RBA’s guidelines, which the central bank publishes “as a way of assisting people who wish to reproduce or create images of banknotes to minimise the risk of non-compliance with the relevant legislation”.
Like actual banknotes, the novelty notes include signatures of the RBA governor and the secretary to the Commonwealth Treasury, running counter to the bank’s advice that “the Reserve Bank of Australia’s name is not to be associated with any reproduction or image”.
The notes use the real signatures of former RBA governor Glenn Stevens and former secretary to the Treasury Martin Parkinson. Mr Stevens, who retired in 2016, is incorrectly labelled as the Secretary to the Treasury, while Mr Parkinson, who left the Treasury in 2014, is named the RBA governor.
“Using these officers of the Commonwealth of Australia brings their names into ridicule & disrepute,” said Mr Fahy.
The RBA guidelines also state that reproductions should be one-sided, and that “no banknote artwork should appear on the reverse of the reproduction or image”.
However, Mr Kelly’s reproductions are double-sided. The back of the reproduction uses the “true colours” of the actual $100 banknote, which Mr Fahy said adds to Mr Kelly’s “deceit”.
The back of the note also includes a photo of Mr Kelly and abstract visualisations of $100 banknotes that do not appear to be to scale.
It is unclear whether Mr Kelly’s reproductions meet the RBA’s sizing guidelines, which mandate that a reproduction should be “less than three-quarters or greater than one and a half times the length and width of the genuine banknote they reproduce”.
It was reported that Mr Kelly paid for the novelty notes with his taxpayer-funded printing allowance.
Monash University economics lecturer Zac Gross, who previously worked as an economist at the RBA, conceded that “it’s unlikely that anyone will try to cash any of these Craig Kelly bucks at the bank”.
“However, I suspect that Martin Place will take a dim view of his stunt – on both economic and legal grounds,” he added.
Mr Kelly’s potential breach of intellectual property law comes just weeks after Facebook deactivated his public page following accusations that he was spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
Mr Kelly’s social media posts also contributed to his decision to quit the Liberal Party in February.