Allen Hope Southey Memorial Lecture 2019 – 25.07.19

'Engineers: The Drama of its Day in the Climate of its Era' was presented by the Hon Justice Stephen Gageler AC, 25 July 2019.

Event synopsis

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.

About the presenter

Stephen John Gageler was appointed to the High Court in October 2012. At the time of his appointment, he was Solicitor-General of Australia. He is a graduate of the Australian National University and has post-graduate qualifications from Harvard University. He was admitted as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 1989 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. Before his appointment as Solicitor-General in 2008, he practised as a barrister extensively throughout Australia principally in constitutional law, administrative law and commercial law.