2019 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture

2019 Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture

Who were the heroes of the Engineers' Case?

In this public lecture, The Honourable Justice Stephen Gageler AC reflects on the people behind the landmark decision. There was the young Robert Menzies, counsel for the successful party, who was permitted by the High Court to challenge its earlier decisions. There was Frank Leverrier KC, who appeared for the Commonwealth and ably supported Menzies' argument. Most prominently, there was Samuel Griffith and Isaac Isaacs, who stood on either side of a debate about the federal compact that culminated in the Court's decision. But Griffith and Isaacs were as committed to the resolution of their debate by an Australian High Court as they were to their own views. By the time of the decision, Griffith had foreseen the need for old doctrines to be revised, and the new era of post-war Australia provided the conditions for Isaacs's view to prevail over Griffith's.