Australian property tycoon apologises for his remarks on unemployment


Tim Gurner, an Australian multimillionaire and CEO of real estate company the Gurner Group, has issued an apology for his comments at a property summit in Sydney on Tuesday, where he said unemployment should jump by up to 50% to create more productive workers. He also complained that the COVID pandemic had changed employees’ work ethic and that they had been paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years.

His comments sparked outrage from politicians, unions, and social media users, who accused him of being out of touch, insensitive, and elitist. His remarks were viewed more than 23 million times on X (formerly Twitter) after being posted by the Australian Financial Review.

Australian property tycoon apologises for his remarks on unemployment
Australian property tycoon apologises for his remarks on unemployment

Gurner says he deeply regrets his words and acknowledges they were wrong

On Thursday, Gurner posted a statement on LinkedIn, saying he deeply regrets his comments and acknowledging they were deeply insensitive to employees, tradies and families across Australia who are affected by these cost of living pressures and job losses. He said that while they are important conversations to have, his comments were wrong and did not convey empathy for those in that situation.

He also said he appreciates the impact of losing a job on people and their families and that he supports the government’s efforts to stimulate the economy and create jobs. He added that he is proud of his team and the work they do to deliver quality projects across the country.

US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticises Gurner’s comments

In the aftermath of Gurner’s comments, US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared the video to her own social media followers, pointing to a growing discrepancy between executive and employee pay. She wrote: “Reminder that major CEOs have skyrocketed their own pay so much that the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay is now at some of the highest levels ever recorded.”

She also linked to a report by the Economic Policy Institute, which found that in 2020, CEO compensation surged 16% to $21.3 million, while average worker compensation grew just 1.8% to $51,456. The report also said that CEO pay has grown 1,322% since 1978, while typical worker pay has risen only 18%.

Australia’s unemployment rate remains steady at 3.7%

According to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia’s unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7% in August 2023, with 13.9 million people employed and 499,000 people unemployed. The underemployment rate also remained steady at 7.9%, while the participation rate increased slightly to 66.4%.

However, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Michele Bullock, warned back in June that the jobless rate would need to climb to 4.5% – implying about 140,000 job losses – to tame inflation, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. She said that wage growth and inflation expectations were still too low and that monetary policy would need to remain accommodative for some time.

Gurner is known for his controversial comments on millennials and housing

Gurner is no stranger to controversy, as he made headlines in 2017 when he stated that millennials should not be buying smashed avocado or expensive lattes in their attempt to save up for their first home. He said that when he was trying to buy his first property, he did not eat out or buy new clothes for a year.

He also said that young people today have unrealistic expectations of what they can afford and that they want to live in inner-city locations that are beyond their means. He advised them to start with a modest property in an affordable area and work their way up.

His comments were met with criticism and mockery from many millennials, who argued that housing affordability was a serious issue in Australia and that saving money on food or coffee would not make much difference. They also pointed out that Gurner had received a $34,000 loan from his grandfather to start his business.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here