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Canberra's crackdown on cash transactions imperils A$100 note

Speculators and 'black economy' suck up Australia's plastic $100 bills

These bundles of $100 notes were seized by Australian police in a recent drug bust. Photo courtesy Queensland Police Service

SYDNEY -- Where have all Australia's 100-dollar banknotes gone? There should be 340 million of them circulating through the economy, according to figures from the central Reserve Bank of Australia, but the distinctive and virtually indestructible green polymer notes are rarely seen in daily life.

The 100-dollar bill, whose front and reverse sides feature two prominent 20th century Australians -- soprano Dame Nellie Melba and soldier-statesman Sir John Monash -- is the highest-value note in Australia, and accounts for just under half the value of the $73 billion Australian dollars ($56 billion) of notes on issue.

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