Ian Wilson (politician)

The Honourable
Ian Wilson
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Sturt
In office
26 November 1966  25 October 1969
Preceded by Keith Wilson
Succeeded by Norm Foster
In office
2 December 1972  8 February 1993
Preceded by Norm Foster
Succeeded by Christopher Pyne
Personal details
Born (1932-05-02)2 May 1932
Adelaide, South Australia
Died 2 April 2013(2013-04-02) (aged 80)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Spouse(s) Mary Wilson
Relations Keith Wilson (father)
Elizabeth Bonython (mother)
Alma mater Adelaide University
Occupation Solicitor

Ian Bonython Cameron Wilson AM (2 May 1932 2 April 2013), solicitor, company director and Australian politician, was born in Adelaide, South Australia, the son of Sir Keith Wilson, a prominent United Australia Party and Liberal Party politician. His mother, Elizabeth, (Lady Betty Wilson CBE), was a granddaughter of Sir John Langdon Bonython, owner of The Advertiser and a member of the first federal House of Representatives, and a great-granddaughter of Sir John Cox Bray, South Australia's first native-born premier.

Wilson was educated at St Peter's College and Adelaide University, where he graduated in law, and at Magdalen College, Oxford (S.A. Rhodes Scholar 1955), where he did a higher law degree. He was a solicitor and company director before entering politics.

In 1966, Wilson was elected to the House of Representatives for the Adelaide seat of Sturt, which his father had held with one break since 1949. It was considered a fairly safe Liberal seat, but at the 1969 election there was a strong swing to Labor in South Australia, and Wilson was unexpectedly defeated by Norm Foster, a waterside worker. In the 1972 election, after spending a great deal of family money, Wilson regained the seat even as Labor won government. He held it without difficulty for over 20 years.

Wilson was typical of upper-class South Australian Liberals from the "Adelaide Establishment" in being relatively moderate on most issues. He was a serious Anglican and active in many charitable and social welfare groups. This did not make him popular with the more conservative wing of the party. When the Liberals came to power under Malcolm Fraser in 1975, he was initially passed over for ministerial preferment in favour of the more conservative John McLeay.

In 1981, McLeay was dropped from cabinet and Wilson was appointed Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment. In 1982 he was shifted to Aboriginal Affairs, a notoriously unpopular portfolio in Coalition governments. He held this position until the defeat of the Liberal government in 1983. He was not included in the Opposition Shadow Ministry after the elections, and remained as a backbencher. He lost Liberal pre-selection ahead of the 1993 election to Christopher Pyne, 35 years his junior, and retired after the election.[1]

Wilson died in Adelaide on 2 April 2013, aged 80.[2]


  1. "Costello backer gets his reward". The Age. 19 March 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2007.
  2. "Former Federal Minister Ian Wilson dies". abc.net.au. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
Political offices
Preceded by
Michael MacKellar
Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment
Succeeded by
Tom McVeigh
Preceded by
Fred Chaney
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Succeeded by
Clyde Holding
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Keith Wilson
Member for Sturt
Succeeded by
Norm Foster
Preceded by
Norm Foster
Member for Sturt
Succeeded by
Christopher Pyne
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