‘Did a lot of damage’: Tim Gurner’s on-stage admission at Forbes Australia Business Summit


Australian property developer Tim Gurner admits he deserved the intense backlash he received after suggesting Australia’s unemployment rate should increase 40 or 50 per cent.
Tim Gurner on-stage at the Forbes Australia Business Summit. Image: Forbes Australia /Scottehler

Taking to the stage at the Forbes Australia Business Summit, his first public speaking appearance since the controversial comments, Gurner detailed the extent of the fallout.

“Look it was a pretty tough period. It’s not about my wellness, but it was a classic interview like this…. I said something really stupid that I really regretted,” he told the Summit on Tuesday.

“There wasn’t a hell of a lot of sleep. But I brought it on myself I deserved it. And we learn and move on. I had a lot of people going through financial strain and families that lost jobs reach out to me directly…The last thing I ever wanted to do was see anyone hurt. That is the opposite of my personality and my ethics.”

“I did a lot of damage with those comments and still regret it today.”

The multimillionaire property developer and founder of Gurner Group made international headlines when discussing Australia’s productivity levels, suggesting “unemployment should increase 40% – 50%”.

“We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around,” he said at the AFR Summit earlier in the year.

“There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them as opposed to the other way around. So it’s a dynamic that has to change. We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy.

Inside the fallout

The public backlash to Gurner’s comments continued in the form of online ridicule and even death threats. Not only to his family, but to the many tradespeople who he says work extremely hard for his businesses.

After going to ground, Gurner turned to his latest venture,  the sold-out health and social club Saint Haven, for support in the wake of the scandal.

He implemented some Gurner-favourite treatments such as red-light therapy, breath work, and intensive mediation for the period of reflection.

“After it had settled down I got back to my normal routine,” said Gurner. “Routine to me is absolutely everything. I’m very regimented in what I do.”

His regular routine – which he has had for about 10 years now – includes early mornings, rigorous exercise, and ‘surrender Sundays’, when he prioritises reflection, resetting and gratitude.

The Saint Haven founder’s laser focus on health and wellness is something he wants everyone to adopt – at least to some extent.

“I’ve got a pretty busy life. I’ve got a family, I’ve got kids, I’ve got businesses, I’ve got friends,” Gurner said. “Sleep is without a doubt the best bio-hack in the world and it’s the easiest bio-hack in the world.”

As Gurner previously told Forbes Australia in an exclusive report, “anything that is out there that’s a biohacking/testing thing I’ve done it. From micro-dosing mushrooms to infrared saunas, to steam, to Oura, lymphatic drainage. Everything. I want to try everything and see what works for me.”

Gurner’s bio-hacks
1. The ChiliPad

Rest and recovery are a core part of Gurner’s wellness routine. He says that his Chilipad has been transformational for getting a good night’s sleep. Essentially, it’s a blanket that lies flat beneath your fitted sheet and keeps your bed at a set temperature all night. Think electric blanket but for cooling. The blanket cools your bed to an optimal temperature which apparently allows the body to fall into a deeper sleep faster and for longer. “I never sleep well in hotels anymore because I don’t have this”, he says.

Tim Gurner
Chillipad keeps the bed cool
2. Joovv Red Light

Reduces inflammation and stimulates mitochondria and is said to reduce pain, aid recovery, help wound healing and improve athletic performance.

Tim Gurner
Gurner under the Joovv red light while lying atop the PEMF mat. (See 12 below) | This Image and main picture above: Cameron Grayson
3. Oura Ring

The ring that comes in silver, gold or black monitors how your body feels and what it needs. When you need more sleep, when you might be getting sick, when to push hard. Gurner’s personal trainer/life coach Nam Baldwin sees his Oura Ring results every week. “He knows exactly where my body’s at. He knows where my head’s at because we talk every week. He knows when I’m in a bad place and need help and he knows when I’m firing. He’s like a psychologist.” 

4. Whoop

A wristband that monitors recovery, sleep, training and health with personalised recommendations and feedback.

5. Infrared Sauna

A sauna that uses red light to heat the body. Has claimed benefits of anti-ageing, detoxification, heart health, immunity, muscle recovery, sleep and weight loss. Gurner uses it on Sundays and on recovery days.

6. Face Infrared

Claims to benefit the collagen in the skin and reduce wrinkles.

7. Ice Bath

Reduces inflammation, relieves sore muscle, and supports immunity, but Gurner also sees it as a way to learn to stay calm under extreme stress.

Tim Gurner
Gurner, wearing an Oura Ring, in his ice bath for the Forbes Australia cover shoot | Image: Cameron Grayson
8. Steam Room

Improves skin health, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, aids recovery. Gurner has one next to his ice bath and infrared sauna. He might use it on a Sunday recovery day.

9. Muse

An EEG-based meditation app that reads your brain waves and plays peaceful weather sounds when you are calm, but if your mind drifts you hear stormy weather to bring your attention back to your breath. Tim Gurner meditates twice a day for 10 minutes. It “keeps my crazy brain calm”.

10. Lymphatic Drainage

The Normatec boot uses pulsed compression to massage the legs to reduce swelling, increase circulation and aid recovery. Gurner often wears one while watching television.

11. Venom Recovery

Wraps designed for ice and heat packs to fit on the various joints.

12. Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Mat

Said to improve healing on the cellular level by affecting the voltage of the cells. It claims to be backed by “thousands of clinical studies”. Tim Gurner lies on it while lying under the Joovv red light, above.

13. Anxiety Blanket

A blanket with 35kg of beads inside, its weight spread across the whole body is said to be like a great big hug. “It’s incredibly calming,” says Gurner.

14. IV Drip

The fastest way to get vitamins and minerals into your system, IV drips are said to boost energy, immune function and cardiovascular health. Gurner’s contains: hydrating fluids, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, Super G Antioxidant (a store bought formulation), L-carnitine (derived from amino acids and crucial to energy and brain function), taurine (a crucial amino acid found mostly in meat). Gurner will usually do the IV drip on a Sunday recovery day.