Australia’s would-be (and likely next) prime minister of Australia Bill Shorten made lithium a big focus in his response to Josh Frydenberg’s first federal Budget, saying he would boost the battery metals industry in Australia if elected.

The ASX’s small cap lithium players — which number almost 120 — were certainly pleased.

Many of them are in Western Australia, the state that hopes to become ‘Lithium Valley’.

“Here’s the remarkable thing, we already have every single resource to make a lithium battery right here in Australia,” Shorten said.

“So instead of the usual trope of shipping the minerals overseas and buying back the finished product at largely inflated prices, let’s make the batteries here and let’s do this with electric vehicles and charging equipment and stations too, supported by Australia’s first electric vehicle policy.

Shorten added that his party would provide a $2,000 payment to families who “want to join the fight against climate change and the fight to lower their power bills” by installing a battery storage system.

Within a week, the federal government named Western Australia as host of a new $53m battery industry research centre.

So how exactly does lithium, a soft and lightweight metal that was first discovered back in 1817, become the batteries that are so popular today?

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