John William Wainwright (1880–1948) was born in Naracoorte in the South East, studied accountancy at night and became South Australia’s auditor-general, 1934–45. Convinced that full employment depended on industrial development, Wainwright’s policies encouraged collaboration between employers, government and trade unions to keep costs of production lower than those of the eastern states, offered specific economic inducements to industry, and established the Industries Assistance Corporation in 1937. During the Second World War Wainwright directed the Commonwealth’s Department of War Organisation of Industry in South Australia, advised on post-war reconstruction, and helped found Common Cause, directed at ending unemployment. Efficient, humourless and cold, his biographer Hugh Stretton reports that some thought Wainwright’s glass eye was the kinder of his two.  

By Carol Fort

This entry was first published in The Wakefield companion to South Australian History, edited by Wilfrid Prest, Kerrie Round and Carol Fort (Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2001). Edited lightly. Uploaded 8 September 2015.

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