Paul Stein

As part of our monthly segment, Our Community Leaders - Great Australian Leaders in Focus which features the thoughts of some of Australia's great leaders, we feature Justice Paul Stein, retired justice of the NSW Court of Appeal.

Justice Paul Stein

Justice Stein was appointed a judge of the District Court in June 1983, became a judge of the Land and Environment Court in June 1985 and was appointed a judge and a judge of appeal of the NSW Supreme Court in April 1997. He retired in 2003.  Previously he was Deputy Ombudsman in NSW between 1977 and 1979 and served as President of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board between 1979 and 1982.  He also served on or chaired many committees of review and inquiries and also served as board member and Chair of the Australian Consumers Association (1974-86; a member of the NRMA Crime Safe Committee (1997-2000); and Chair of the NRMA Community Advisory Committee between (1993-98).

We started by asking Justice Paul Stein who he considered to be the three great leaders of our time? And Why?

Justice Paul Stein:

  • Nelson Mandela and Xanana Gusmao; because of their immense courage and humanity, as well as retention of the power of forgiveness as a means of reconciliation.  
  •  Simone de Beauvoir; for her leadership of women and their emancipation.
Our Community: What are the three attributes you would consider to be essential to a leader? And Why?

Justice Paul Stein:
  • Integrity
  • Communication
  • Sensitivity
Our Community: What are the three greatest barriers to new leaders emerging in Australia?

Justice Paul Stein:
  • Conventional politics and spin doctoring
  • Economic rationalism as an excuse for state and private capitalism
  • Lethargy of general populace

Our Community: What advice would you give to a potential leader to take them to the next stage?

Justice Paul Stein:  Have courage and don't sell out on principles.  Always talk straight and do not 'spin'.

Our Community: Nature/nurture - are leaders born or bred?

Justice Paul Stein:  A bit of both.

Our Community:  What do you consider to be the three top leadership issues facing the nation?

Justice Paul Stein:

  • Lies by politicians
  • The nature of politics itself
  • Partly because of the above, a public which tunes out of national issues and debate.
Our Community: What insights have you gained personally on your leadership journey?

Justice Paul Stein:  Don't underestimate the barriers and difficulties, but don't give up.

Our Community: Who have been your own leadership mentors and how did they assist in developing your own leadership style?

Justice Paul Stein:
  •  John Yap; a Chinese/Indonesian lawyer I knew in the 60s and 70s, who was brave beyond belief in defending human rights in Indonesia.
  • Edward St John QC; who taught me the art of straight talking and of the need for hard work to articulate and advocate points of view.
Both taught me the need for courage to defend unpopular causes and human rights.

Published September 2004