Bennett is distinguished for his sustained and original contributions in the field of organo-metallic chemistry. He is well known internationally for his work on the activation of organic and inorganic molecules by organo-transition metal complexes which has been definitive and leads directly to a better understanding of heterogeneous catalysis, especially in its application to the petrochemical industry. His imaginative studies range widely and include the formation of metal-carbon σ-bonds in oxidative additions, cyclo-metallation reactions with bidentate tertiary phosphines, the stabilization of short-lived organic molecules of transition metal centres, and the activation of aromatic hydrocarbons by arene complexes of ruthenium. He was awarded the H.G. Smith Medal of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute in 1977.