Australia's new five-dollar banknote is full of colour, featuring yellow wattle and the Eastern Spinebill bird and will circulate from September 1.
12 Apr 2016 - 12:07 PM  UPDATED 12 Apr 2016 - 12:12 PM

The five-dollar note has been given a colourful makeover as part of the next generation of Australian banknotes.

A top-to-bottom clear window adorned with yellow Prickly Moses wattle and a striking Eastern Spinebill bird are the main design additions revealed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), with images of Parliament House and Queen Elizabeth II still dominating the fiver.

Circulated from September 1, a new tactile feature will help vision-impaired people distinguish between the different denominations and new security features will make it harder to counterfeit, the RBA said on Tuesday.

"Each banknote in the new series will depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird within a number of the elements," the Reserve Bank of Australia said in its announcement of the new note.

"On the $5 banknote, these are the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern Spinebill."

But the five-dollar note has attracted some criticism too.

What's not mentioned is that the Eastern Spinebill has had something of a makeover.

In real life, the bird has a subdued palette ranging from white, through tan, darker brown, and black.

The RBA's version is a riot of colour - a patchwork of nearly every hue in the rainbow.

Steve Anyon-Smith, a professional birdwatching guide and author of a book on birdwatching for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, described the bird's depiction as bizarre.

"It's only similarity to an Eastern Spinebill is the general shape," Mr Anyon-Smith said.

The RBA said in its announcement the design followed "a process of extensive consultation with subject matter experts".

Mr Anyon-Smith says it seemed unlikely that those experts included ornithologists.

The Eastern Spinebill was a beautiful bird in its own right and did not need enhancement, he said.

"Yeah, if it was a boring bird, jazz it up a bit, but it looks like a hybrid between a spinebill and something from South America," he said.

The RBA said anti-counterfeiting measures built into the new notes will be explained in a public awareness campaign in coming months.