Celebrating 50 years of WA government ownership

Jun 18, 2020

a picture of The Perth Mint front door

Fifty years ago, on the evening of 31 June 1970 the Union Jack on the Perth branch of the Royal Mint was lowered for the final time.

The next day, the Australian flag was proudly raised for the first time – an observance that continues to this day.a Perth Mint security guard holding the Australian flag

The change signified that administration of The Perth Mint was no longer Britain’s responsibility. Under the Perth Mint Act 1970, it was henceforth fully owned and operated by the Government of Western Australia.

The memory of the Mint’s glory years as the producer of 106 million gold sovereigns between 1899 and 1931 had long since faded.

By 1940 the coin presses were striking Commonwealth pennies and halfpennies, and as the decades rolled on, the depressed gold sector meant that the Mint’s bullion workload was considerably lightened.

Clouding its future direction further was the opening in 1965 of the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra to strike the nation’s new decimal currency.

The British concluded there was no good reason to continue the status quo, and the decision to revoke the historic Royal proclamations of 13 October 1897 and 7 March 1898 establishing ‘a mint in Perth’ paved the way for its change of ownership.

Little ceremony marked the actual handover. Mint employees simply found themselves working for the West Australian civil service rather than the British.

But as we know now, the move foreshadowed a renaissance. Charles Cook, Director of the new enterprise, caught the spirit of what was might be possible.

“My objective is to replace our traditional sources of revenue now passing into eclipse with others not previously exploited.”

— Charles Cook

A portrait of Charles Cook

The Perth Mint Act added to the sense of what might be possible, stating that The Perth Mint was being called into being as a ‘commercial undertaking, promoting the development of the Australian gold, silver, precious metal and precious stone industries and facilitating investment, marketing and trading in relation to these industries’.

By the mid-80s the hopes and plans had taken solid shape against the backdrop of a revival in the gold price. Western Australia 

Premier Burke declared confidently: The redevelopment of the Mint will enable a fully-fledged bullion industry to be established in WA including modern refining facilities, gold storage facilities and a jewellery industry. We aim to make Perth a major bullion centre in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the major bullion centres in the world.

Things could not have begun better than the launch of the Australian Nugget Gold Bullion Coin Program in April 1987. The coins’ success beat even the most optimistic forecasts and the revenue from them in the first few years financed spectacular growth.

Since then the Mint has established a world-class reputation for a wealth of precious metal commemorative products, and investment solutions and services.

Thanks to the change of ownership 50 years ago, all Perth Mint operations, undertakings and obligations in relation to these offerings and solutions are guaranteed by the Western Australian government.

Enshrined in law*, this exclusive guarantee allows us to pass on to clients unprecedented peace of mind and certainty, gained from the knowledge that their purchases are endorsed and underwritten by a highly rated sovereign entity.

This fact and our important half century anniversary are two great reasons to celebrate The Perth Mint.

*Gold Corporation Act 1987, Section 22(1)