Mr Kane said more needed to be done to establish population centres much further away from major Australian city CBDs, “and providing transportation networks to connect them. I don’t think they’ve done enough of that.”
But the high profile corporate leader, who spends about 50 per cent of his time in the United States where Boral has substantial business operations, said it was pleasing that Australian politicians from both major parties acknowledged the need for major infrastructure works and were taking action.
Mr Kane also condemned the state of infrastructure in the US and the lack of upgrade work being done in the world’s richest nation.
“The US is an embarrassment. They have not had an omnibus highway build for 20 years. They can’t seem to get a consensus in Congress,” he said.
“They can’t seem to agree to do anything. And so I think the US is much further behind than even Australia was and they haven’t started yet.”
The US needed to replace ageing bridge networks and refurbish its interstate highway system, and it had an “antiquated” and low speed rail system, he said.
This shouldn’t be a boom, this should be a rising tide and we need to sustain the level of investment.
Adrian Dwyer, chief executive of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia
“And the airports, I don’t know the last time you were in LaGuardia, or in LAX, but they’re an embarrassment. The Russians have a better airport system,” he said.
Mr Kane is a US citizen and was born and raised in New York. He has been the chief executive of Boral since 2012, and made the comments in an interview with The Age and Sydney Morning Herald after the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney last week.
The company recently signed a contract to provide concrete and quarry products to Melbourne’s WestGate Tunnel project, a project that delivers an alternative to the busy WestGate Bridge.
In its outlook for the 2020 financial year, Boral has predicted infrastructure spending in Australia will help cushion its business in the face of a soft new housing market.
Boral investors have endured a tough 18 months with the company’s share price falling from a high of $8.12 in February last year to $4.98 at the close on Friday.
Adrian Dwyer, chief executive of the industry think tank Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, agreed that Australia had a strong pipeline of infrastructure investment.
“This needs to be the new normal. The level of investment from Australia’s state governments over the next four years is $185 billion in infrastructure, taxpayer investment in infrastructure, $125 billion of that is in NSW and Victoria,” he said.
“This shouldn’t be a boom, this should be a rising tide and we need to sustain the level of investment.”
Darren is the mining and agribusiness reporter for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.