The Federation Press

How Many Cheers for Engineers?


On 31 August 1920, the Australian High Court handed down its decision in Amalgamated Society of Engineers v Adelaide Steamship Company Limited (the Engineers Case).

On 31 August 1995, the Faculty of Law and the Centre for International and Public Law at the Australian National University held a seminar to mark the 75th anniversary of the decision in the Engineers Case. The edited proceedings of that seminar are incorporated into this book, which attempts an assessment of the status of Engineers today.


“Provides useful academic comment [on the High Court decision in the Engineers Case 1920] and interesting insight into our legal history. ...
[It] unearths snippets from some of the notable figures in our history - Sir Robert Menzies’ recollection of appearing as a 26-year-old barrister to challenge accepted High Court doctrine, and a critique of the importance of Menzies’ role by Chief Justice Sir Gerard Brennan, who looks at the judges’ notebooks from the two hearings.
Professor Sawer’s opinion is that ’the joint judgment is one of the worst-written and organised in Australian judicial history’; RTE Latham concludes that Engineers ’cut off Australian constitutional law from American precedents, a copious source of thoroughly relevant learning’; and Sir Victor Windeyer’s emphasis on the political reason for the decision ...
The fourth [part of the book] contains papers delivered at a conference to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the judgment. There are contributions by Sir Anthony Mason, Sir Gerard Brennan, Dr Gavin Griffith QC, Keith Mason QC, Professor Michael Coper, Professor Leslie Zines, Professor Tony Blackshield, George Williams and Fiona Wheeler. ...” - Proctor (Qld Law Society), December 2001

Table of Contents

The path to Engineers
John Goldring

What makes the Engineers case a classic?
Keven Booker and Arthur Glass

Three reflections on Engineers
Sir Robert Menzies, RTE Latham and Sir Victor Windeyer

The impact of Engineers

Engineers and the “federal balance”
Leslie Zines
Engineers and implied immunities
Tony Blackshield
Engineers and implied rights
George Williams

Has Engineers reached its “use by” date?

A Commonwealth perspective
Dr Gavan Griffith
A State perspective
Mr Keith Mason
A third perspective
Ms Fiona Wheeler

Three cheers for Engineers

Three cheers for Engineers
Sir Gerard Brennan
The “Engineers song”

Table of cases
Table of statutes

Of interest...