RETAILERS would be happy to see the five-cent coin disappear from the register and say phasing it out is inevitable.
The Sun-Herald reported exclusively last week that the Royal Australian Mint had issued a confidential warning to the federal government that the cost of making the coin had now exceeded its face value. The Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten, confirmed he was in the early stages of making a decision about the coin's future.
The Australian Retailers Association executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said the coins were a "nuisance" to handle and he would support moves to remove it from circulation.
However, there was concern that the change would complicate pricing policies, he said, and retailers would need some direction on whether they should round prices up or down. He was also worried that smaller retailers would feel the change the most.
The consumer group, Choice, is in favour of phasing out the five-cent piece but urged strong guidelines on whether prices go up or down.
''Consumers might regard the decision to round up, a cost they shouldn't have to bear,'' said the National Retail Association's executive director, Gary Black.
Parking and vending machines and phone booths have already stopped accepting the tender and many other everyday services are moving rapidly away from cash transactions, especially small-coin denominations.
"With the rising prices of metals and some of the ingredients which go into the five-cent coin, [the Mint] certainly reported that it's more expensive to make the five-cent coin than five cents," Mr Shorten said.
But he was also concerned about donations to charities, which are often the beneficiaries of smaller currency.