CANBERRA, March 29 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has announced 2.2 billion Australian dollars (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) of investment in road safety initiatives.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, announced the funding on Friday, only days before Morrison and Frydenberg deliver the Federal Budget for 2019-20.
The package includes 1.1 billion Australian dollars (779 million U.S. dollars) for road safety infrastructure in regional Australia, 571.1 million Australian dollars (404.6 million U.S. dollars) to improve the safety and efficiency of heavy vehicles and 550 million Australian dollars (389.7 million U.S. dollars) for the Black Spot Program, which has been proven to reduce crashes in high-risk areas by 30 percent.
"Keeping Australians safe is my government's number one priority," Morrison said in a statement on Friday.
"More than a thousand Australians died on our roads last year. That's devastating.
"These are mums who didn't make it home from work, or children that didn't make it to school."
The government has been given a significant boost ahead of April's budget after data released by the Department of Industry on Friday projecting that the value of Australian exports for financial year 2018/19 will be 280 billion Australian dollars (198.4 billion U.S. dollars), an 8 percent increase from the 260 billion Australian dollars (184.2 billion U.S. dollars) projected in December.
News Corp Australia reported on Thursday that Morrison and Frydenberg will have a 70-billion-Australian dollar (49.6 billion U.S. dollars) campaign "war chest" in the lead-up to May's general election.
"This is why a strong economy is so important. It allows us to invest in safer roads that save lives," Morrison said.
Frydenberg said the projects receiving funding were based on the recommendation of the 2018's National Road Safety Strategy inquiry.
The budget is expected to include funds to establish the Office for Road Safety as recommended by the inquiry.
"Road widening, new overtaking lanes and intersection improvements are all important steps we can take to make our roads safer," Frydenberg said.
"As a government we are able to deliver important investments like our 2.2-billion-Australian dollar Road Safety Package as a result of our strong economic management."