Scott Morrison says Australia must counter the “noisy voices” that want to shut down its mining industry.
The prime minister has made the comments at an event hosted by the Minerals Council in Canberra.
“We want you to succeed, I want you to succeed, because a stronger mining industry means a stronger Australia, and a weaker mining industry means a weaker Australia,” he said on Wednesday night.
“If we want our mining industry to be successful in the future, we must counter those noisy voices that want to shut you down.”
Mr Morrison said he was told on a recent trip to Western Australia that such “shouty voices” are contributing to a decline in the number of people signing up to be mining engineers.
They are doing so by spreading the message that the sector doesn’t have a future in Australia, he said.
“I was shocked. This was something that has to be turned around,” he said.
“I’ll stand up for you. I’m not sure some others will.”
The prime minister’s speech came after Labor Leader Bill Shorten vowed to create an Australian Future Mines Centre if his party wins the next election.
The centre would co-ordinate exploration work, lead scientific research and develop the technology needed to explore under deep cover, he told a Minerals Council event earlier on Wednesday.
“The centre will generate the knowledge and know-how to lift the success rate of minerals exploration possibly back to the rates and levels we enjoyed 30 and 40 years ago,” he said.
The new centre would cost $23 million, with the funds coming from the Australian Research Council’s “special research initiative”, and be formed immediately under a Labor government.