The Guardian 2024-02-26 16:31:30


Dozens of Australian businesses have disparity above 50%, landmark data reveals

Dozens of Australian businesses have gender pay gaps above 50%, landmark data reveals

Data showing nearly two thirds of workplaces have a pay gap that favours men is being published in the hopes of ending disparity

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Dozens of Australian companies have gender pay gaps of more than 50%, according to landmark data released for the first time by the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The individual gender pay gaps at nearly 5,000 businesses across Australia – every private company with 100 employees or more – were published on Tuesday with the explicit aim of attempting to reduce the gender pay gap.

The data paints a stark picture, with some of the country’s biggest and most recognisable employers posting gender pay gaps of 30-40% in favour of male employees.

The publication of this data comes after the government passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) bill 2023. Nationally, the gender pay gap sits at 19%, meaning that over the course of a year, the median that a woman is paid is $18,461 less than the median of what a man is paid.

“The absolute objective of doing this is to create momentum to close the gender pay gap,” Mary Wooldridge, CEO of WGEA, said.

“The evidence has shown overseas, that [publishing individual company pay gaps] is a catalyst for action to be taken … It’s not a silver bullet. It’s not going to close overnight, but we expect reductions.”

More than 3,000 employers, or 61.6% of the total, had a gender pay gap that favoured men. Meanwhile, 30.1% (1,493 employers) had a neutral gender pay gap – defined as a gap of 5% of lower – and just 412 employers, or 8.3% of the total, had a pay gap that favoured women. The Guardian (listed in the data as GNM Australia) reported a pay gap of 2.5%.

The pay gaps are based on the median remuneration for men and women in each business – that is, the middle value when the pay of male or female employees within a company is listed from lowest to highest.

“It’s really important that it’s known that it’s not about equal pay,” said Wooldridge. “So equal pay [for equal work] has been the law in Australia for over 50 years. The gender pay gap is more than that, because it looks at, in this case, the median remuneration … If you have a lot of men who are highly paid and a lot of women who are in the lower paid areas, then the gender pay gap will reflect that by showing the differential between the two.”

Thirty-eight companies had gender pay gaps in favour of men of 50% or more.

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The largest of these pay gaps was at Hunter Primary Care, a health services provider in the Newcastle region of NSW with a pay gap of 73.1%. The company said the pay gap was due to the fact that it had a large number of highly paid male GPs who worked an average of one four-hour shift a month. Their salaries were annualised by WGEA as part of calculating the gap, but when these employees were removed from the dataset, the gap came down considerably.

WGEA said it was important to include the annualised salaries of casual and part-time employees, because women make up a large proportion of this workforce.

There were 27 companies with gender pay gaps of 50% or more in favour of women. These were largely concentrated in the healthcare and social assistance sectors. Of the 27 companies with the largest pro-women pay gaps, 18 were disability support organisations.

Airlines tended to have very significant pay gaps. Alliance Airlines had a pay gap of 50.2%, Jetstar’s was 43.7%, Virgin Australia Airlines sat at 41.7%, Cathay Pacific had 39.5% and Qantas had a pay gap of 37%.

A Qantas spokesperson said the pay gap “does not mean women are paid less than men to do the same jobs at Qantas and Jetstar, but shows there is a significant underrepresentation of women in highly paid roles like pilots and engineers across airlines globally”. The company is “working hard to encourage more women into pilot and engineering roles” but that due to the years of training required “improving the gender balance of these workgroups will take time”, the spokesperson said.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson echoed this, saying its pay gap was driven by the fact “we have a larger proportion of men occupying higher paying roles, such as pilots and aircraft engineering roles”. Virgin is “focused on improving the demographic profile of key roles across our organisation over time”, the spokesperson said. The other airlines did not respond to requests for comment.

Banks scored badly. Out of more than 30 banks, none had a neutral gender pay gap, or a pay gap that favoured women. Eight banks had a median pay gap of more than 30%.

The big four banks all paid men significantly more than women, based on median pay packages. Commonwealth Bank had the highest pay gap at 29.9%, followed by Westpac (28.5%), ANZ with 23.1%, and NAB at 18.8%.

Spokespeople for CBA and Westpac said their pay gaps were reflective of the makeup of the workforce, with higher numbers of women working in lower-paid areas of the business such as contact centres, operations and retail branches. Both banks said they were working to reduce the pay gap.

NAB said it had made “solid progress” regarding pay equity and representation but acknowledged there was more work to do. ANZ said the company had “a strong focus on the gender pay gap. In the last two years our gender pay gap has improved five percentage points from 28.1% to 23.1%”, but acknowledged it had to do more.

Sally Curtis, a lecturer at the research school of management at ANU, said when you look at other countries that have introduced similar legislation requiring employers to publish their pay gaps – including the UK, Denmark and Canada – gender pay gaps have come down.

Curtis said there are many reasons that addressing the gender pay gap is so crucial.

“It’s not good for individual women but it’s also not good for society … There’s a moral reason for doing this. The gender pay gap is an indicator of who has power in society. [It’s] about fairness and treating people of all genders fairly, in terms of power distribution in society, and valuing the work that everybody does.”

Research conducted by KPMG found that women bearing the brunt of caring responsibilities for children and older family members caused about one-third of the gender pay gap.

Women are far more likely to take time out of work after having children and are far more likely to work part-time than men – 30% of women, compared to 11% of men. But employer data showed that that in 2022-23, only 7% of managers are employed part-time, which means part-time workers face a “promotion cliff”.

According to KPMG, gender discrimination accounted for 36% of the cause of the pay gap.

“There can be conscious or unconscious discrimination in hiring and pay decisions,” said Natasha Bradshaw, a senior associate at the Grattan Institute. “We also know that women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay or to strongly advocate for themselves or play up their achievements to go for a promotion. Often, that’s because of the, often correct, perception that they’ll face backlash for doing that.”

The other main driver of the pay gap was industrial and occupational segregation, which sees women over-represented in lower paid industries, according to KPMG.

This was reflected in the pay gap data released on Tuesday. While every single industry had a pay gap in favour of men, the largest pay gaps tended to be in the highest paid industries. For example, construction had a pay gap of 31.8% (meaning the median paid to men was $38,562 more than that paid to women); financial and insurance services had a gap of 26.1% ($36,537); and professional, scientific and technical services had a gap of 26.1% or ($34,600).

The smallest gaps were in some of the lowest paid industries – accommodation and food services (1.9% or $1,122); public administration and safety (2.3% or $1,638); and arts and recreation services (4.6% or $3,493).

“What we need to reduce the gender pay gap is a strong commitment across society – government, from businesses, from the community, from the education sector,” Bradshaw said.

Wooldridge said that while the factors that lead to gender pay gaps at companies are often society-wide and complex, companies can still do more to shrink the pay gap.

“I always think there’s things that employees can do and creative employers are doing it. You know whether it’s pilots, or manufacturing or mining, we hear great stories of employers going into schools and recruiting, or supporting scholarships. So you can be passive and say, ‘well, we get what we get’, or you can be proactive and try and shift that by moving earlier in the pipeline.”

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Coalition leads for first time since election as Albanese’s trust ratings tumble

Guardian Essential poll: Coalition leads for first time since election as Anthony Albanese’s trust ratings tumble

Exclusive: Labor’s change of position on stage-three tax cuts appears to have hit the prime minister’s personal favourability

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The Coalition has pulled narrowly ahead of Labor for the first time since the election in the Guardian Essential poll, with a big hit to Anthony Albanese’s trustworthiness a further cause for concern to the government.

In a sign the Albanese government’s poll honeymoon may have drawn to an end and only days out from a byelection in the Melbourne seat of Dunkley, the latest poll shows Coalition leads with 48% of the two-party-preferred vote, ahead of Labor on 47%. A further 4% are undecided, according to the poll of 1,105 people.

On primary votes, the Coalition leads on 35%, with Labor down to 30%, followed by the Greens (13%), independents or other minor parties (8%), One Nation (7%) and the United Australia party (2%).

Despite earlier polls showing support for Labor’s decision to redirect the stage-three tax cuts more towards low- and middle-income earners, the change of position appears to have hit Albanese’s personal favourability.

Just over a third (37%) said that Albanese was trustworthy, down 15 points since March 2023, while the number of respondents who said the prime minister was visionary (34%) was also down 12 points.

A majority of voters said Albanese “changes his opinion depending on who he thinks is listening” (65%, up 11 points since March), is “out of touch with ordinary people” (60%, up 10 points) and “narrow-minded” (53%, up 17 points).

The poll found 47% of respondents disapprove of Albanese’s performance, compared with 42% who approve.

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Dutton’s net favourability is similar, with 44% disapproving and 40% approving of the job he is doing as opposition leader. Dutton rates similarly to Albanese on trustworthiness (38%), narrow-mindedness (52%) and being out of touch (58%).

Dutton was considered to be more aggressive, with 50% describing the opposition leader that way compared with just 29% for Albanese.

Albanese beat Dutton on a series of less conventional metrics of popularity, with an 11-point lead on the leader you “would most like to have babysit your children”, an eight-point lead in “more likely to stop and help if your car was stranded” and “most likely to go to the pub for a beer with”.

But Dutton was favoured to give financial advice by 31% of respondents, up nine points on Albanese’s 22%.

A majority of voters (56%) thought there had been no change in the Coalition under Dutton, on culture in the party and behaviour of politicians, policies and vision for the country. Just a quarter (25%) said the Coalition had changed for the better on these metrics, while about 20% said they had changed for the worse.

While Labor is favoured to handle wages by 41% of respondents to 28% for the Coalition and also fared better with voters on climate change (31% to 25%), the Coalition now leads on reducing cost-of-living pressures (33% to 28%) and keeping borders secure (41% to 23%).

Although Labor MPs insist the latter is not being raised with them as a major vote changer, the poll found two-thirds of people (66%) were aware of a recent boat arrival in Western Australia and three in five (61%) were aware of releases from immigration detention as a result of the NZYQ high court decision.

A majority (59%) said Labor was moving too slowly to put former detainees back into detention and did not have suitable policies on asylum seekers; a slim majority (51%) went as far as to say the Albanese government is “losing control of the borders”.

But Dutton’s stance to vote against more workplace rights for casuals, labour hire and gig workers was less popular, with 35% opposed and 30% in favour.

Since Dutton announced the Coalition would repeal the right to disconnect, Labor has targeted him in question time by arguing he wants Australians to “work longer, for less”.

Although there is no detail yet on Labor’s propose to criminalise doxxing, there was strong support (62%) for this measure when respondents were told the “government is intending to make the public release of personally identifiable data (phone numbers, addresses, social media details) with malicious a criminal offence, known as doxing”. Just 19% opposed new doxxing laws.

Voters were also in favour of random alcohol and drug testing of politicians, with 75% in support and just 8% opposed.

According to separate polling released on Tuesday, about four in five Australians support a ceasefire in Gaza.

The YouGov polling of 1,060 Australian adults was commissioned by humanitarian organisations, including Plan International Australia, Oxfam Australia and Caritas Australia. When asked “Do you support a ceasefire in Gaza?” 81% of respondents agreed and 19% disagreed.

Asked whether they supported “the Australian Government taking more action to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza”, 53% said yes, 25% said no and 22% said they did not know.

However, only 30% of respondents said support for a ceasefire would be an issue they would consider at the next election, compared with 43% who said they would not.

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Sydney Mardi Gras board asks police not to join parade

Jesse Baird and Luke Davies: Sydney Mardi Gras board asks police not to join parade

The decision comes after NSW constable Beaumont Lamarre-Condon was charged over the deaths of the gay couple last week

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Organisers of Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade have asked police not to march in the event on Saturday after New South Wales constable Beaumont Lamarre-Condon was charged with murdering a gay couple in the city, the New South Wales force have said.

A NSW police spokesperson confirmed the decision by the board of Australia’s premier LGBTQI event on Monday night.

“The NSW police force has been advised that the board of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has decided to withdraw the invitation to NSW police to participate in this year’s event,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“While disappointed with this outcome, NSW police will continue to work closely with the LGBTIQA+ community and remain committed to working with organisers to provide a safe environment for all those participating in and supporting this Saturday’s parade.”

The move came as an advocacy group said the debate about the police presence should be kept separate from the alleged murder.

Debate over police participation in the parade was ignited after Lamarre-Condon allegedly shot his ex-boyfriend and his new partner with his service gun.

The 28-year-old is being held without bail after being charged with murdering his former partner, ex-Ten reporter Jesse Baird, 26, and the man’s new boyfriend Luke Davies, 29, in Sydney on 19 February.

Investigators allege Lamarre-Condon’s crimes followed a months-long campaign of “predatory behaviour”, culminating in the fatal double shooting.

The senior constable previously marched in the parade with the NSW police contingent.

But the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation said conversations about police participation in Mardi Gras should be kept separate from the issue of the alleged murders.

“This, as has been alleged by NSW police, is a domestic and family violence crime and we must all acknowledge that this issue occurs at a disproportionately higher rate in LGBTQ+ communities,” it said.

“Greater attention and focus needs to be on awareness, recognition and responses to domestic and family violence by our community, first responders, service providers and government.”

NSW police commissioner, Karen Webb, said excluding officers from the parade on Saturday would set the organisation’s relationship with the gay and lesbian community backwards.

“We have been participating in Mardi Gras for the last 20 years and haven’t missed a year … it would be a real travesty for this organisation to be excluded (this year),” she told reporters on Monday.

The state’s premier Chris Minns backed police marching, saying not doing so would be a step backwards.

“There are many LGBTQI members of the NSW police force who would have battled prejudice within the workforce,” he said. “I think that NSW police marching in the Mardi Gras parade is an important part of bringing the communities together.”

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who is gay, said there was a trust deficit between the state’s LGBTQI community and police, resulting in many crimes going unreported.

While there was a lot of work to be done to build the relationship, Mr Greenwich did not believe officers should be excluded from the march.

“I want the NSW police force to stand with the LGBTQI community every day of the year and that includes during the Mardi Gras parade,” he told ABC Radio.

“I want to see them march and I want to see them work with us … they understand the task ahead, they understand the hurt and the pain in the community and they are wanting to take steps to address that.”

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Police weaponsCalls for independent review after alleged murders

Calls for independent review of police weapons after alleged murders of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies

Sen Const Beau Lamarre took a police gun home before allegedly using it to murder his former partner and his ex’s new boyfriend

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Civil liberties advocates are calling for an independent review of how police weapons are used in New South Wales after a constable was able to take home a force-issued gun three days before allegedly using it to murder two people.

Sen Const Beau Lamarre allegedly used the same Glock pistol to murder his former partner Jesse Baird, 26, and Baird’s partner, Luke Davies, 29, in Paddington on 19 February.

Police have said Lamarre checked out a gun from Miranda police station on 16 February to take to work policing a protest in Sydney on 18 February. It is unclear whether Lamarre worked at the event.

As the search for Davies’ and Baird’s bodies continued on Monday, the NSW Council of Civil Liberties president, Lydia Shelly, wrote to police and the police minister, Yasmin Catley, to call for an inquiry.

“NSWCCL … urges that the government call for an immediate independent inquiry into police use of force and access to weapons,” Shelly wrote in the letter, seen by Guardian Australia.

“We cannot understand why general duties police officers are able to gain access to lethal weapons. This practice must end.”

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The council’s past president, Josh Pallas, conceded police were not going to be disarmed in NSW but pointed to the UK as an example of a “quite safe jurisdiction” where he said “actually very few police carry firearms”.

Catley said the police had “rightly asked” for an “external review” into the current practices around access and storage of firearms after the “absolutely tragic” deaths of Baird and Davies.

The use of a service gun in the alleged murders of Baird, a former Network Ten presenter, and Davies, a Qantas flight attendant, would be the subject of an internal police review with oversight from the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.

The police commissioner, Karen Webb, conceded there had been a “failure” and said Victoria police would help oversee the review.

She said the review would focus on how police stored and allowed access to firearms, with a focus on specialist police areas and “user pays” events such as music festivals and rallies where organisers have to pay for policing services.

Addressing the media on Monday, Webb described the alleged murders as a “crime of passion”.

The Greens justice spokesperson, Sue Higginson, said an independent inquiry into police use of force and access to weapons was urgently needed.

“Police have no business investigating police,” she said.

Police believe the gun Lamarre allegedly used to murder Baird and Davies was stored at Balmain police station before it was returned to Miranda on 20 February, missing a cartridge case which was found at the scene of the alleged crime.

Asked if anyone noticed the gun was returned with missing bullets, a NSW police spokesperson said that would form part of the critical incident investigation and it “would not be appropriate to comment further at this time”.

Higginson accused the police of keeping “sloppy and dangerous” records of gun access, retrieval and return.

The police deputy commissioner David Hudson said it was “not unusual” for officers to check out firearms for user pays duties in which they were deployed to locations that they were not normally attached to.

“It was indicated on the records at Miranda that for the purpose of the removal of the firearm was for user pays duties,” he said.

“But there are also approvals within the organisation for firearms to be stored at home as well. And we’re working through all that as part of the investigation.”

The Sydney MP, Alex Greenwich, said the community was concerned and that the amount of time police could have access to weapons while not actively on duty should be restricted.

“It’s unclear what the protocols and checks are for when a police officer is storing a gun themselves,” he said.

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Putin had dissident killed to thwart prisoner swap, allies claim

Putin had Navalny killed to thwart prisoner swap, allies claim

Russian leader accused of ordering Navalny’s death to stop him being exchanged for FSB hitman serving life sentence in Germany

Alexei Navalny’s allies have alleged that Vladimir Putin had the opposition leader killed in jail to sabotage a prisoner swap in which Navalny would have been exchanged for a convicted hitman jailed in Germany.

Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of the opposition leader, said in a video that Navalny and two US nationals were in line to be exchanged for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service hitman who is serving a life sentence in Germany for the assassination of a Chechen former separatist in Berlin.

“Navalny should have been free in the next few days because we had secured a decision to exchange him,” Pevchikh said. “I received confirmation that the negotiations were at their final stage on the evening of 15 February.” Navalny was reported dead on 16 February.

Pevchikh’s video address comes days after Navalny’s widow, Yulia, promised that his team would soon tell the world “why exactly Putin killed Alexei”.

Pevchikh alleged that Navalny was killed because the Russian president could not tolerate the thought of him being free. “I’m telling you this story so that you have an answer to the question of why Navalny was killed now,” she said.

She claimed Putin decided to “get rid of the object of bargaining” by killing Navalny so that Krasikov could be exchanged for someone else. “It’s absolutely illogical … It’s the behaviour of a mad mafioso,” she said.

The Russian authorities claim Navalny, Putin’s most formidable domestic opponent, fell unconscious and died after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” Arctic penal colony. Russia later said Navalny died of natural causes.

In recent months there had been growing murmurs that western leaders might try to include Navalny’s name in a list of people to be part of a potential prisoner exchange between Russia and the west. The German papers Bild and Zeit reported that German authorities had discussed exchanging Navalny for Krasikov.

Sergei Guriev, an economist and longtime Navalny ally, told the Guardian in September that he knew from “direct and indirect” correspondence with Navalny that the politician’s insistence that he would remain in Russia no longer applied.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said there were “discussions” to involve Krasikov in a swap deal with Navalny and other prisoners held in Russia but the sources said it was unclear whether Putin had at any point agreed on exchanging Navalny.

The German government on Monday said it was aware of media reports of a planned prisoner swap for Navalny and said it could not comment.

Pevchikh said Navalny’s allies had been working since the start of the Ukraine war on a plan to get him out of Russia as part of a prisoner exchange involving “Russian spies in exchange for political prisoners”.

Pevchikh did not name the two US citizens who would be part of the swap, though Putin previously said he was open to exchanging the jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich for Krasikov.

Russia has long sought to involve Krasikov in a prisoner exchange with the west. Moscow previously requested that Krasikov be released in a swap for the US marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia. The US at the time was unable to deliver on the request for Krasikov.

Pevchikh said her team had made desperate efforts and tried to find intermediaries, even approaching Henry Kissinger, but said western governments had failed to show the necessary political will.

“Officials, American and German, nodded their heads in understanding. They recounted how important it was to help Navalny and political prisoners, they shook hands, made promises and did nothing,” she said.

Navalny is just the latest of Putin’s opponents to have died over the course of Russian leader’s nearly 25 years in power.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s team said they were looking for a venue where his supporters could publicly bid him farewell later this week.

“We are looking for a hall for a public farewell to Alexei … If you have a suitable venue, please contact us,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on X.

Yarmysh said the idea was to hold the event, which is separate from a funeral, by the end of the working week.

Navalny’s funeral location has not yet been announced, though he is expected to be buried in Moscow. His body was handed over to his mother on Saturday, nine days after he died.

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Putin had dissident killed to thwart prisoner swap, allies claim

Putin had Navalny killed to thwart prisoner swap, allies claim

Russian leader accused of ordering Navalny’s death to stop him being exchanged for FSB hitman serving life sentence in Germany

Alexei Navalny’s allies have alleged that Vladimir Putin had the opposition leader killed in jail to sabotage a prisoner swap in which Navalny would have been exchanged for a convicted hitman jailed in Germany.

Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of the opposition leader, said in a video that Navalny and two US nationals were in line to be exchanged for Vadim Krasikov, a Russian FSB security service hitman who is serving a life sentence in Germany for the assassination of a Chechen former separatist in Berlin.

“Navalny should have been free in the next few days because we had secured a decision to exchange him,” Pevchikh said. “I received confirmation that the negotiations were at their final stage on the evening of 15 February.” Navalny was reported dead on 16 February.

Pevchikh’s video address comes days after Navalny’s widow, Yulia, promised that his team would soon tell the world “why exactly Putin killed Alexei”.

Pevchikh alleged that Navalny was killed because the Russian president could not tolerate the thought of him being free. “I’m telling you this story so that you have an answer to the question of why Navalny was killed now,” she said.

She claimed Putin decided to “get rid of the object of bargaining” by killing Navalny so that Krasikov could be exchanged for someone else. “It’s absolutely illogical … It’s the behaviour of a mad mafioso,” she said.

The Russian authorities claim Navalny, Putin’s most formidable domestic opponent, fell unconscious and died after a walk at the “Polar Wolf” Arctic penal colony. Russia later said Navalny died of natural causes.

In recent months there had been growing murmurs that western leaders might try to include Navalny’s name in a list of people to be part of a potential prisoner exchange between Russia and the west. The German papers Bild and Zeit reported that German authorities had discussed exchanging Navalny for Krasikov.

Sergei Guriev, an economist and longtime Navalny ally, told the Guardian in September that he knew from “direct and indirect” correspondence with Navalny that the politician’s insistence that he would remain in Russia no longer applied.

Sources with knowledge of the matter said there were “discussions” to involve Krasikov in a swap deal with Navalny and other prisoners held in Russia but the sources said it was unclear whether Putin had at any point agreed on exchanging Navalny.

The German government on Monday said it was aware of media reports of a planned prisoner swap for Navalny and said it could not comment.

Pevchikh said Navalny’s allies had been working since the start of the Ukraine war on a plan to get him out of Russia as part of a prisoner exchange involving “Russian spies in exchange for political prisoners”.

Pevchikh did not name the two US citizens who would be part of the swap, though Putin previously said he was open to exchanging the jailed US journalist Evan Gershkovich for Krasikov.

Russia has long sought to involve Krasikov in a prisoner exchange with the west. Moscow previously requested that Krasikov be released in a swap for the US marine Paul Whelan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence in Russia. The US at the time was unable to deliver on the request for Krasikov.

Pevchikh said her team had made desperate efforts and tried to find intermediaries, even approaching Henry Kissinger, but said western governments had failed to show the necessary political will.

“Officials, American and German, nodded their heads in understanding. They recounted how important it was to help Navalny and political prisoners, they shook hands, made promises and did nothing,” she said.

Navalny is just the latest of Putin’s opponents to have died over the course of Russian leader’s nearly 25 years in power.

Meanwhile, Navalny’s team said they were looking for a venue where his supporters could publicly bid him farewell later this week.

“We are looking for a hall for a public farewell to Alexei … If you have a suitable venue, please contact us,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on X.

Yarmysh said the idea was to hold the event, which is separate from a funeral, by the end of the working week.

Navalny’s funeral location has not yet been announced, though he is expected to be buried in Moscow. His body was handed over to his mother on Saturday, nine days after he died.

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Antoinette Lattouf escalates legal battle with new federal court claim

Antoinette Lattouf escalates legal battle against ABC with new federal court claim

Journalist is suing broadcaster for allegedly ‘sacking her without a proper basis and without due process’, adding to existing claim at Fair Work Commission

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The journalist Antoinette Lattouf has escalated her fight against the ABC to the federal court, suing the public broadcaster for allegedly breaching its employee enterprise agreement by “sacking her without a proper basis and without due process”.

Lattouf has already lodged an unlawful termination application with the Fair Work Commission claiming she was sacked from a casual presenting role on Sydney’s Mornings radio program over her political views and her race.

The broadcaster was three days into a five-day radio hosting contract with ABC Sydney when she said she was told not to return for the final two shifts. The ABC has said she “failed or refused to comply with directions that she not post on social media about matters of controversy during the short period she was presenting”.

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Lattouf had shared a post from Human Rights Watch alleging Israel was using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza. The ABC had reported on the Human Rights Watch claim.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said in a statement on Monday that Lattouf was suing the ABC for breaching its employee enterprise agreement by “sacking her without a proper basis and without due process”.

Lattouf is seeking “reinstatement, compensation, pecuniary penalties against the ABC and orders that ABC management undergo training to ensure they comply with their EA obligations”, the statement said.

The statement of claim lodged with the federal court last week said the ABC had breached the enterprise agreement by terminating her employment for misconduct when she had not engaged in misconduct and “had complied with guidance provided to her by management”.

It accused the ABC of failing to advise Lattouf in writing of the nature of her alleged misconduct and said the broadcaster did not give her an opportunity to respond to or explain her actions.

The ABC has argued that because Lattouf was a casual employee she was not sacked, and that she was paid for the full five days.

The Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal lawyer Josh Bornstein said Lattouf’s case alleged that the ABC panicked when it dismissed Lattouf and did not comply with its own disciplinary regime.

“Antoinette Lattouf is the first Australian journalist to be sacked for communicating a fact; the very same fact that the ABC was reporting on,” he said.

“The ABC’s conduct was a textbook example of what can go wrong when an organisation applies brand management techniques instead of being guided by principle, proper process and legal obligations.”

The ABC declined to comment.

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Minister admits likely shortfall in funding for Labor’s regional decarbonising program

Minister admits likely shortfall in funding for Labor’s regional decarbonising program

Exclusive: Infrastructure department describes $400m budget for precinct grants program as ‘modest’, while Catherine King says it will require ‘additional funding in the future’

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The regional development minister, Catherine King, has conceded that one of Labor’s key regional funds to decarbonise the economy will need to be topped up after her department labelled a $400m investment “modest”, documents reveal.

Documents obtained under freedom of information suggest the Albanese government plans to expand the regional precincts and partnerships program (RPPP), announced in October 2022 to replace more generous Coalition schemes that Labor claimed amounted to pork-barrelling.

The release comes as the independent MP for Indi, Helen Haines, introduces a private member’s bill that would require decisions regarding government grants to follow a merit-based selection process and create a parliamentary committee for greater oversight.

In the October 2022 budget Labor announced it would cancel the sixth round of the Coalition’s building better regions fund and close down the community development grant program due to criticisms of partisan allocation of funding.

King announced a $1bn investment including $600m for the growing regions fund, through an “open, competitive grants process”, and $400m for the RPPP.

RPPP projects are assessed against criteria but it is a “non-competitive” program, meaning it remains open at all times and projects are not assessed in rounds against other applicants.

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On 14 December 2022, King’s department wrote a brief asking for her to seek authority from the prime minister for the programs by the “critical date” of 16 December.

“The funding for the [RPPP] is modest and will require further funding in the future to meet the objectives of the program,” the department advised.

The brief cited the fact that “it is likely stakeholders will have high expectations about the amount of funding available under the programs”.

It also warned that urban stakeholders will probably feel “excluded”, after which $150m was allocated to the urban precincts and partnership program.

On 12 January 2023, King signed off on the brief and wrote to Anthony Albanese seeking approval for the two new programs.

The RPPP “will facilitate collaboration and joint investment to help regions move towards net-zero emissions, a decarbonised economy and sustained regional growth”, King wrote.

“It is my view that making available $400m over three years is appropriate to start to facilitate the Australian government’s contribution to precinct partnerships across regions, regional cities and rural communities.

“I expect this program will require additional funding in the future.”

Kind wrote that an expert panel will be “involved in the assessment process” of the RPPP.

Neither fund has yet delivered any grants. Applications for the growing regions fund closed in mid-January. The first tranche of RPPP grants is also expected to be announced in early 2024.

In the October 2022 budget Labor also slashed $6.4bn from the energy security and regional development plan and $1.8bn from the regional accelerator program, funding that was secured by the Nationals in return for their support of the Morrison government’s net zero emissions goal.

The shadow regional development minister, Bridget McKenzie, said: “These documents confirm internally what we have known for some time – that the Albanese government has torn important regional programs to shreds.”

McKenzie noted the government had extended eligibility to regional universities “which have other sources of funding, to participate, further diluting opportunities for regional councils and community groups”.

Haines told reporters in Canberra that “rural and regional Australia are in desperate need of greater investment” but recognised the RPPP is a “significant regional fund”.

Haines praised Labor for legislating a national anti-corruption commission but said its “report card is not fully populated”. “We need to see how they disburse public funds when it comes to these major grants.”

A spokesperson for King said the government had “made initial contributions to these new programs in line with responsible budget management”.

The spokesperson noted growing regions grants are assessed by a multi-party parliamentary panel, while the RPPP goes to an expert panel chosen from the urban policy forum before a final decision by the minister.

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Queensland plan to pay developers’ fees already failed in New Zealand, expert says

Queensland policy of paying developers’ fees already failed in New Zealand, expert says

New minister’s ‘pro housing’ direction wins praise but council taxes policy deemed ‘probably not particularly effective’

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The Queensland government’s new policy of paying council taxes for developers is “probably not a particularly effective policy” and has already failed in New Zealand, an expert says.

But the overall “pro-housing” policy direction of new housing minister, Meaghan Scanlon, has won praise from some.

One of the most controversial elements of Scanlon’s Homes for Queenslanders scheme is a policy to “incentivise infill development”, including by paying council charges levied on new developments to pay for infrastructure. It would cost the state taxpayer up to $350m and includes other elements.

The development industry often claims the taxes add to the cost of housing.

The research economist Matthew Maltman, from the e61 Institute, said it’s “probably not a particularly effective policy – if you’re not going to change zoning restrictions”.

Developer infrastructure contributions do add to the cost of building housing – which is typically passed on to renters or purchasers – but they’re not the most significant factor, he said.

Maltman recently published a paper on planning reform in the New Zealand community of Lower Hutt, which attempted to reduce house prices by slashing taxes on development in 2012 until 2018.

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It had little effect on construction rates or housing prices.

It was only later, when the local council implemented a radical program of reform to their planning system, removing bans on apartments in much of the city, that anything changed.

“That’s when you saw a massive increase in housing supply,” Maltman said.

“So much so that they actually raised the rate of developer contributions for infrastructure in 2021 – and that was their highest year on record for dwelling consents.

“Because, essentially, zoning restrictions were the barrier towards new housing being built.”

Like other experts the Guardian spoke to, Maltman said the more “Yimby – yes, in my back yard” policy under the new minister was a broadly positive one.

Scanlon also plans to roll out a pilot “inclusionary planning” scheme – trading away planning rules like carparking for a proportion of dwellings set aside to be rented below market rate – and mandatory housing targets for local councils.

Queensland Yimby group Greater Brisbane said Scanlon was charting a course for the right direction – though adopting less ambitious policies than other states or New Zealand.

Organiser Travis Jordan said the mandatory targets didn’t come with any clear stick if local governments failed to meet them. But he said there was a good reason for a softer approach – avoiding backlash.

“There may not necessarily be social licence immediately to deliver those sort of scale of reforms,” he said.

Jordan said the government’s inclusionary planning approach was a good one.

“This is a good way of making these exemplar developments that show people that mixed use medium-density, sustainable housing is possible without car parking,” he said.

The Queensland Greens accused the minister of “running a protection racket for developers” with a “huge tax cut”. The party has a bill before parliament which would permit councils to raise infrastructure charges, which are capped by the state government.

“Queensland is in a housing crisis caused in large part by private developers holding back supply to keep prices high, and the first thing the Labor government wants to do is give them a huge taxpayer funded handout,” the Greens MP Michael Berkman said.

“This taxpayer funded handout isn’t even designed to make any new housing cheaper, and has no guarantees of a single new public home or any affordable homes.”

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s managing director, Michael Fotheringham, said the plan was ambitious, and backed by sufficient funding to make it a reality.

He said the developer levy would help unlock already-approved projects, which are no longer financially viable due to a rise in construction costs during a period of inflation after the end of the pandemic.

Fotheringham said the plan was “getting close” to the scale required to solve the housing crisis.

“It’s got a range of well thought-out measures in it.”

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Queensland plan to pay developers’ fees already failed in New Zealand, expert says

Queensland policy of paying developers’ fees already failed in New Zealand, expert says

New minister’s ‘pro housing’ direction wins praise but council taxes policy deemed ‘probably not particularly effective’

  • Get our morning and afternoon news emails, free app or daily news podcast

The Queensland government’s new policy of paying council taxes for developers is “probably not a particularly effective policy” and has already failed in New Zealand, an expert says.

But the overall “pro-housing” policy direction of new housing minister, Meaghan Scanlon, has won praise from some.

One of the most controversial elements of Scanlon’s Homes for Queenslanders scheme is a policy to “incentivise infill development”, including by paying council charges levied on new developments to pay for infrastructure. It would cost the state taxpayer up to $350m and includes other elements.

The development industry often claims the taxes add to the cost of housing.

The research economist Matthew Maltman, from the e61 Institute, said it’s “probably not a particularly effective policy – if you’re not going to change zoning restrictions”.

Developer infrastructure contributions do add to the cost of building housing – which is typically passed on to renters or purchasers – but they’re not the most significant factor, he said.

Maltman recently published a paper on planning reform in the New Zealand community of Lower Hutt, which attempted to reduce house prices by slashing taxes on development in 2012 until 2018.

  • Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup

It had little effect on construction rates or housing prices.

It was only later, when the local council implemented a radical program of reform to their planning system, removing bans on apartments in much of the city, that anything changed.

“That’s when you saw a massive increase in housing supply,” Maltman said.

“So much so that they actually raised the rate of developer contributions for infrastructure in 2021 – and that was their highest year on record for dwelling consents.

“Because, essentially, zoning restrictions were the barrier towards new housing being built.”

Like other experts the Guardian spoke to, Maltman said the more “Yimby – yes, in my back yard” policy under the new minister was a broadly positive one.

Scanlon also plans to roll out a pilot “inclusionary planning” scheme – trading away planning rules like carparking for a proportion of dwellings set aside to be rented below market rate – and mandatory housing targets for local councils.

Queensland Yimby group Greater Brisbane said Scanlon was charting a course for the right direction – though adopting less ambitious policies than other states or New Zealand.

Organiser Travis Jordan said the mandatory targets didn’t come with any clear stick if local governments failed to meet them. But he said there was a good reason for a softer approach – avoiding backlash.

“There may not necessarily be social licence immediately to deliver those sort of scale of reforms,” he said.

Jordan said the government’s inclusionary planning approach was a good one.

“This is a good way of making these exemplar developments that show people that mixed use medium-density, sustainable housing is possible without car parking,” he said.

The Queensland Greens accused the minister of “running a protection racket for developers” with a “huge tax cut”. The party has a bill before parliament which would permit councils to raise infrastructure charges, which are capped by the state government.

“Queensland is in a housing crisis caused in large part by private developers holding back supply to keep prices high, and the first thing the Labor government wants to do is give them a huge taxpayer funded handout,” the Greens MP Michael Berkman said.

“This taxpayer funded handout isn’t even designed to make any new housing cheaper, and has no guarantees of a single new public home or any affordable homes.”

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s managing director, Michael Fotheringham, said the plan was ambitious, and backed by sufficient funding to make it a reality.

He said the developer levy would help unlock already-approved projects, which are no longer financially viable due to a rise in construction costs during a period of inflation after the end of the pandemic.

Fotheringham said the plan was “getting close” to the scale required to solve the housing crisis.

“It’s got a range of well thought-out measures in it.”

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Donald Trump appeals against $454m ruling in New York civil fraud case

Donald Trump has appealed his $454m New York civil fraud judgment, challenging a judge’s ruling that he manipulated the value of his properties to obtain advantageous loan and insurance rates as he grew his real estate empire.

The former president’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal on Monday asking the state’s mid-level appeals court to overturn Judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling in a civil fraud lawsuit brought in 2022 by New York attorney general Letitia James.

Engoron found that Trump, his company and top executives, including his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, schemed for years to deceive banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals.

The judgment, which includes $354m in penalties plus $100m in pre-judgement interest following the three-month, non-jury trial that concluded on 16 February, will continue to accrue interest if the former president fails to pay.

The former president, who has repeatedly described the prosecution as a “witch-hunt”, has denied all wrongdoing.

President’s son says democracy is at stake in his battle to stay sober

Hunter Biden says democracy is at stake in his battle to stay sober

Joe Biden’s son says he faces ‘ultimate test for a recovering addict’ as failure could be used against father in 2024 election

In a rare interview, Hunter Biden said his battle to stay sober is unique because failure would be used as a political cudgel as his father seeks a second term as US president.

“Most importantly, you have to believe that you’re worth the work, or you’ll never be able to get sober,” Joe Biden’s son told Axios on Monday. “But I often do think of the profound consequences of failure here.

“Maybe it’s the ultimate test for a recovering addict – I don’t know. I have always been in awe of people who have stayed clean and sober through tragedies and obstacles few people ever face. They are my heroes, my inspiration.

“I have something much bigger than even myself at stake. We are in the middle of a fight for the future of democracy.”

Joe Biden is set to face Donald Trump in November in a rematch of the 2020 election. Hunter Biden, 54, became embroiled in that first contest amid Republican attempts to capitalise on his personal struggles and tangled business affairs, particularly in relation to Burisma, an energy company in Ukraine.

As the 2024 election approaches, Republicans are still using Hunter Biden and Burisma as political weapons, alleging corruption as they seek to impeach the president, notwithstanding the indictment for lying of a key source also linked to Russian intelligence.

That effort is in large part motivated by a desire for revenge for Democrats’ first impeachment of Donald Trump, which focused on attempts to extract dirt on the Bidens from the Ukrainian government.

On Wednesday, Hunter Biden is due to sit for a closed-door interview with the House oversight and judiciary committees.

The same panels last week interviewed James Biden, the president’s younger brother. Coupled with charges and revelations concerning Alexander Smirnov, the FBI informant behind allegations against the Bidens trumpeted by senior Republicans, the James Biden interview was widely held not to have advanced the GOP’s case.

Joe Biden’s surviving son, after the death of the former Delaware attorney general Beau Biden in 2015, Hunter Biden has previously publicly discussed his struggles with grief and addiction, not least in Beautiful Things, a memoir published in 2021.

Facing tax- and gun-related felony charges, Hunter Biden has sworn in federal court that he has not used alcohol or drugs since 1 June 2019. Axios said a representative said Biden continued to test negative for alcohol or drugs.

Jonathan Turley, a conservative law professor who has appeared as a witness for Republicans pursuing impeachment, said the Axios interview had “powerful moments as Hunter describes his struggle with addiction and the pressure that he feels to stay sober in light of the election”.

But, Turley said, “it would not be surprising if this interview finds its way into filings by the government as the court considers defence pre-trial motions” in Biden’s felony firearms case, in which he is accused of lying about drug use when buying a firearm.

Biden said he felt “a responsibility to everyone struggling through their own recovery to succeed” with his attempt to stay sober.

“I don’t care whether you’re 10 years sober, two years sober, two months sober or 200 years sober – your brain at some level is always telling you there’s still one answer.

“Embrace the state in which you came into recovery, which is that feeling of hopelessness which forces you into a choice. And then understand that what is required is that you basically have to change everything.”

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Actor faces fresh sexual assault claim from set designer

Gérard Depardieu faces fresh sexual assault claim from set designer

Woman is latest to accuse actor and allegation is the second from the shooting of 2022 film Les Volets Verts

The French actor Gérard Depardieu, who is under investigation for alleged rape, is facing another accusation of sexual assault.

A set designer has filed a legal complaint against the actor claiming he sexually harassed and assaulted her on a film set in 2021.

French media reported it was the second allegation of sexual misconduct by Depardieu, 75, during shooting of the 2022 film Les Volets Verts (The Green Shutters), which also stars Anouk Grinberg and Fanny Ardant in Paris.

Carine Durrieu Diebolt, the lawyer for the complainant, named only as Amélie, 53, told Agence France-Presse on Sunday she had lodged a legal complaint with the prosecutor’s office.

Amélie told the online newspaper Mediapart that Depardieu had made a number of offensive remarks to her on 10 September 2021. While he was sitting in a corridor, the actor “brutally grabbed her”, pinned her between his thighs with “phenomenal force” and “kneaded her waist and stomach right up to her breasts”, she said.

She added the actor’s bodyguard on the film set had interrupted the alleged incident, which she described as like being caught in a “wolf trap”.

Durrieu Diebolt told BFM TV: “At the time, she didn’t press charges because she didn’t want to mar the work of her colleagues and the release of the film, and the kindness of the film crew allowed her to think she was going to be fine. But the trauma persisted.”

She said it resurfaced last October when Depardieu published an open letter saying: “I have never, ever abused a woman.”

Since these events, the plaintiff had been unable to work, and had anxiety attacks and post-traumatic stress, the lawyer said.

Durrieu Diebolt told AFP she sent her complaint to the Paris public prosecutor’s office last Friday, alleging sexual assault, sexist insult and harassment. The public prosecutor will decide if there is a case to answer and if so what legal action should be taken to investigate. The Paris prosecutor’s office has not confirmed the lodging of the complaint and Depardieu’s lawyers have not commented.

According to Mediapart, another woman, named as Sarah, 33, an assistant director on the same shoot, accused Depardieu of having touched her “breasts and buttocks”.

In December 2020, Depardieu was officially put under investigation – the equivalent of being charged – for the alleged “rape and sexual assault” of the actor Charlotte Arnould, who told police he raped her at his apartment in Paris in 2018 when she was 22.

Depardieu said the allegations were “baseless” and that any encounter with Arnould had been consensual. He attempted to have the charges thrown out, but a Paris court last year said there was “serious and confirmed evidence that justifies Gérard Depardieu remaining charged”. The case is working its way through the legal system.

A dozen other women have come forward to accuse the actor of sexual abuse. In January, prosecutors ordered the closure of a case brought by the actor Hélène Darras, who claimed Depardieu had sexually abused her during the shooting of the 2007 film Disco, because it was past the statute of limitations.

Darras was one of the 13 women to accuse Depardieu of sexual misconduct in an investigative story by Mediapart in April 2023.

The allegations against the actor, a giant of the French screen who has regularly made controversial headlines since his career began more than 50 years ago, not least over his decision to move to Russia, divide public opinion in France.

In December there was outrage when 50 artists signed an open letter protesting that Depardieu was being “lynched” and robbed of his right to be presumed innocent. A group of about 600 people then signed a counter letter calling for help and support for victims of sexual abuse.

Emmanuel Macron expressed support for the actor in a television interview, calling him an “immense actor … who makes France proud” and saying he should benefit from the presumption of innocence. The French president said Depardieu was the target of a “manhunt”.

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More women may be psychopaths than previously thought, says expert

More women may be psychopaths than previously thought, says expert

Dr Clive Boddy says assessment skews towards obvious male traits but female psychopathy is more subtle

When it comes to a typical psychopath, the suited and booted Patrick Bateman from the novel American Psycho might spring to mind, but, according to one expert, the number of women with the neuropsychiatric disorder could be far greater than previously thought.

Psychopaths are generally considered to lack empathy and guilt, exhibit antisocial behaviour, lie frequently and be ruthless, narcissistic and manipulative.

“Psychopaths are after money, power and control,” said Dr Clive Boddy, from Anglia Ruskin University, who is an expert on psychopaths in the corporate world.

While the idea of psychopaths as violent, antisocial criminals has given way to a more nuanced view – with Boddy among those to argue they are often found in big business – the idea that they are mostly male has remained.

“The behaviour of female psychopaths seems to be subtle enough and less obvious than male psychopaths and therefore they’re not recognised as much,” Boddy said.

“A small but mounting body of evidence describes female psychopaths as prone to expressing violence verbally rather than physically, with the violence being of a relational and emotional nature, more subtle and less obvious than that expressed by male psychopaths,” he noted, adding that may include spreading rumours and lies for personal advantage.

Boddy said one problem was that part of the assessment used to identify psychopaths – known as the Levenson self-report psychopathy scale (LSRP) – was skewed towards identifying the disorder in men.

That, he said, was because while the first part of the assessment looked at how emotionally detached, selfish, uncaring and manipulative a person was, the second part – which covered the psychopathic lifestyle – focused on violence and antisocial behaviour.

“The secondary element, and the measures for it, were largely based on studies of criminals who were in jail at the time and psychopathic – so the feeling is, among researchers these days, that those measures are just not suited to identifying female psychopathy.”

There had also been fewer studies looking at psychopathy in women than in men, he said, and assessors may be reluctant to label women as psychopaths.

Some estimates have suggested there could be a 10:1 ratio of male to female psychopaths, but Boddy’s work, using only the first part of the LSRP, suggested the figures were very different.

“It’s almost one to one,” Boddy said, although he noted large-scale studies of randomly chosen adults would be needed to get a more definitive picture.

Boddy, who is due to give a talk on female psychopaths at the Cambridge festival next month, said that while an estimated 1% of men were psychopaths, the diagnosis sat at one end of a spectrum.

“Estimates [using the first part of the LSRP suggest] there are about 23% of men who, although they’re not categorically psychopathic, have enough of the traits to be problematic for society,” he said.

Boddy’s own research, based on surveys of white-collar workers, suggested such traits were not uncommon in females. “Around 12% to 13% of females have enough of those traits to be potentially problematic,” he said.

Recognising psychopathy in women and men was important, Boddy said, not least because such individuals could have a huge impact in the workplace, with employees sidelined, abused and bullied. In addition, he noted, businesses led by such individuals could lose direction, and it could affect how people viewed large organisations.

“They see the greed, untruthfulness and ruthlessness of those at the top and this undermines democracy and the rule of law,” he said.

Boddy advocated for screening to be applied to job applicants to help protect employees.

“Especially the higher up you go in terms of seniority – therefore you have more power and control – the more those sorts of screening tests and psychometric tests are needed,” he said.

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