February 9 2006
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Original white shoe man dies
Feb 09 14:19

One of the original white shoe brigadiers, Eddie Kornhauser, was a Polish migrant made good who befriended prime ministers and premiers.

The property developer, who has died on the Gold Coast aged 87, was one of Queensland's richest men with a personal fortune estimated at about $350 million.

A spokesman for his Surfers Paradise-based HSP Property Group said on Thursday Mr Kornhauser died "peacefully" on Wednesday in a Gold Coast hospital.

Mr Kornhauser mixed with some of the nation's most powerful people and was a long-time friend of former prime minister Bob Hawke.

During the 1980s he also enjoyed close ties with the developer friendly Bjelke-Petersen government in Queensland.


But Mr Kornhauser came under opposition scrutiny and was accused in state parliament of money laundering.

He was particularly close to "Minister for Everything" the late Russ Hinze, a relationship which led to three charges of official corruption arising from the Fitzgerald inquiry.

In 1991, Mr Kornhauser was acquitted in the Queensland District Court following an eight-week trial on allegations he paid money to Hinze family companies in return for corrupt business favours.

He cried after being found not guilty and later said the ordeal had haunted him.

"You never forget these things," he said. "But I move forward. I don't go backwards."

Mr Kornhauser was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1918, and his family moved to the German capital, Berlin, when he was a toddler.

The Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and Mr Kornhauser and his brother Jack migrated to Australia, settling in Melbourne.

The brothers opened what would become a successful fur business and later expanded to Sydney, where Mr Kornhauser's interest in property developments started.

He built Kay House, the first central city, post-war high rise in Sydney on the present MLC Centre site. He pioneered the planning of the famous Menzies Hotel in Sydney and built five Melbourne suburban hotels.

Mr Kornhauser moved to the Gold Coast in the early 1970s and formed the HSP Property Group which developed many ambitious projects, including the Paradise Centre in Surfers Paradise. The company is also prominent on the Sunshine Coast and in north Queensland.

A keen sports watcher who supported Geelong in the AFL, Mr Kornhauser also invested in the racing industry and in 1990s had success with the horse Stargazer.

Mr Kornhauser was said to inspire incredible loyalty from his friends and staff.

"I have good friendships and you know why? I never ask them for favours," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Kornhauser, who divorced his wife in the 1980s, is survived by two sons and a daughter. A private funeral for Mr Kornhauser was held on Thursday in Melbourne.

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