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Tim Gurner issues apology for ‘wrong’ and ‘deeply insensitive’ comments

Source: Twitter/AFR

Gurner Group CEO Tim Gurner has issued an apology for his controversial comments about workers’ rights, productivity and Australia needing higher unemployment.

The 40-year-old property developer, who claimed at a property summit this week that Australia needs higher unemployment to “kill that attitude” among workers that their bosses are “lucky to have them”, issued a contrite statement through a PR agency on Thursday night.

Tuesday’s summit heard Gurner, who is Australia’s 154th richest person on the AFR Rich List with an estimated fortune of about $912 million, say tradies had been “paid a lot to do not too much in the last few years” and that needed to change.

“I think the problem that we’ve had is that people decided they didn’t really want to work so much any more through COVID and that has had a massive impact on productivity,” Gurner said.

“We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around.”

His appearance sparked commentary across the nation and even reached outspoken US Democratic Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who retweeted it.

PR firm Papermill Agency said Thursday’s statement would be Gurner’s only statement on the matter, and ‘‘he will not be commenting further’’.

“At the AFR Property Summit this week I made some remarks about unemployment and productivity in Australia that I deeply regret and were wrong,’’ the statement read.

‘‘There are clearly important conversations to have in this environment of high inflation, pricing pressures on housing and rentals due to a lack of supply, and other cost-of-living issues.

‘‘My comments were deeply insensitive to employees, tradies and families across Australia who are affected by these cost-of-living pressures and job losses.

‘‘I want to be clear: I do appreciate that when someone loses their job it has a profound impact on them and their families and I sincerely regret that my words did not convey empathy for those in that situation.”

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