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In a LinkedIn post made before he deactivated his account on the social media network, Tim Gurner, the CEO of the Gurner Group, said he was “wrong” to make the remarks.
“At the AFR Property Summit this week I made some remarks about unemployment and productivity in Australia that I deeply regret and were wrong,” he wrote. “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,” continued Gurner, whose net worth is an estimated $587 million.
While speaking at The Australian Financial Review Property Summit on Tuesday, Gurner said that the key to reverse what he viewed as a trend of arrogance in the labor market in recent years was high unemployment.
“We need to see unemployment rise,” he said. “Unemployment has to jump 40, 50 percent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around.”
“There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them, as opposed to the other way around,” he continued. “We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy.”
Gurner’s remarks sparked fury online for their perceived insensitivity.
“Stop calling these people job creators,” author Keith Boykin wrote on Twitter. “Businesses do not exist to create jobs. They exist to create profit.”
It wasn’t the first time Gurner has been put on blast for his comments about those with smaller net worths. He achieved infamy among aspiring millennial homebuyers in 2017 when he said they should stop buying avocado toast if they want to be able to afford a home, a remark that came to represent the perceived arrogance of older, wealthier generations towards the economic struggles of millennials.