Our personal histories shape our values. Our values, in turn, shape our standards of conduct. My values, like your values, are influenced by a mix of experiences. Those experiences include my upbringing, education, and the people around me. 20 years' studying and working in the law have probably had the largest influence on my values. Inevitably, I’ve become imbued with the values that have formed the framework of my professional thinking.
All the values I will list can probably be summed-up in the Australian vernacular of the "fair go". And to tell whether we're giving someone a fair go, I ask: Am I doing to others what I would want them to do to me?
More specifically, my core values include standing up for the rule of law. The rule of law is necessary, though not sufficient, for justice. Australia is ruled by law, not by individuals. In other words, everyone, including the Prime Minister, and the highest-ranking government officials, is subject to laws. All government actions must be authorised by law and there must be a strong, well-resourced, and independent judiciary that can make sure that governments comply with the law. Laws must be open, clear, coherent, prospective, and apply equally to everyone. Every Australian is entitled, without any discrimination, to the law's equal protection. That's why, for example, I support marriage equality.
We do not want too many laws. We want to keep governments from interfering with our lives, unless our conduct harms others (though what "harms others" can sometimes be difficult to determine).
To preserve the rule of law in Australia, I defend the separation of powers — particularly, separating legislative and executive powers from judicial power. There are some things that only an independent court should be allowed to do, such as trying someone's criminal guilt or innocence.
I also believe in a friendly separation of Church and State. The State shouldn’t interfere in matters of the Church and the Church shouldn't interfere in matters of the State. I support the freedom of every Australian to practise their religious faith, and freedom to practise no religious faith. The State shouldn’t bully the Churches. But neither should the Churches bully the State.
I believe in the respect for, and celebration of, the individual. We should embrace each other’s strengths, beauty, dignity, ambitions, uniqueness, weaknesses, enthusiasm, and vulnerabilities, and assign the same moral worth to everyone, including those who are not “like us” and those who suffer a disability. We should celebrate activism, taking the lead, confronting threats head-on, and, if needed, defying orthodoxy. We must all push through to make a difference. We, as individuals, are not instruments or reflections of the State; the State is an instrument and reflection of us.
To survive and to flourish, we require equal rights. We require equal access to employment, education, and health care services (including the currently under-resourced mental health care services). We require freedom of speech, religion, and association, and a healthy and safe environment and secure food and water supplies for all Australians. And we need to close the gap in living standards and health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
We should not only tolerate diversity, but also embrace and celebrate it. Diversity includes diversity of creeds, races, beliefs, and opinions. Diversity lets us apply different insights, experiences, and perspectives to a problem, leading to better solutions. Diversity benefits schools, the workplace, and society, because we have access to a larger pool of talents and strengths. Diversity brings richness and variety — in art, culture, and cuisine. Diversity brings creativity and innovation. Diversity sometimes also brings challenges. But if we all adhere to some core Australian values — such as a fair go — then diversity really is strength.