Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Walker, Clifton Reginald (1905–1976)

by Greg Patmore

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Clifton Reginald Walker (1905-1976), Communist Party official, was born on 26 May 1905 at Forbes, New South Wales, fourth child of native-born parents Henry Kidd Walker, miner, and his wife Emily, née Wilmott. The Walkers eventually moved to Lithgow, where Emily ran a boarding house to supplement the family income. Reginald left school at the age of 14 and, after some time unemployed, gained his first job in a bicycle shop. He then worked at the post office before joining the New South Wales Government Railways and Tramways in 1925.

His unemployment and early experiences at work politicized him. Briefly a member of the Australian Labor Party, he was drawn to the Communist Party of Australia. He moved to Sydney in 1928 to work at the railway parcels office. Early in 1929 he became secretary of his sub-branch of the Australian Railways Union and the Sydney branch of the C.P.A.

In December 1929 Walker was elected to the central executive committee of the Communist Party as part of a successful push led by L. L. Sharkey and J. B. Miles against 'right deviation' and towards a stance independent of the A.L.P. He was to serve on the central (later national) committee until 1974. In January 1931 he left for the Soviet Union, where he attended the International Lenin School in Moscow and briefly worked on a collective farm in the summer of 1932. When he returned to Australia in March 1933 he had changed his name to 'Richard Dixon', vainly hoping to avoid recognition from the security service which regarded him as 'a dangerous revolutionary'. Appointed a full-time paid C.P.A. employee, he rose to assistant general secretary in 1937 and national president in 1948, a position he held until he retired in 1972. As Walker, he had married Dorothy Jean Button on 25 March 1939 at the North Sydney registry office.

Dixon was a prolific writer and pamphleteer, and in the late 1930s editor of the Communist Review. In one notable publication in 1945, he attacked the White Australia policy as another version of Hitler's racist theories and offensive to such wartime allies as China and India. He unsuccessfully stood for the Senate as a Communist Party candidate in 1951 and 1953, and appeared on behalf of the party before the (Petrov) royal commission on espionage in October 1954.

Known to his colleagues as Dick, he remained an ardent supporter of the Soviet Union and made frequent visits there and to Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, he accepted the shift by the C.P.A. in the 1960s to an independent approach and protested against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Dixon was described in an intelligence report (1953) as a 'slightly built figure with a prim, ''school-masterish" manner'; he was 'nevertheless, a forceful character by virtue of his capacity for hard work and his organising ability'. In 'a quiet but effective manner' he insisted on 'strict attention to detail and observance of Party discipline—a reprimand from DIXON is evidently to be feared'.

Walker had a strong commitment to his family and also became a keen golfer. He died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease on 7 March 1976 at his home at Bankstown, and was cremated. His wife and their daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Aarons, What's Left? (Melb, 1993)
  • B. Symons et al, Communism in Australia (Canb, 1994)
  • S. Macintyre, The Reds (Syd, 1998)
  • Tribune (Sydney), 10 Mar 1976
  • Communist Party of Australia records (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Richard Dixon papers (National Library of Australia)
  • ASIO file, A6119, item 1477 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Greg Patmore, 'Walker, Clifton Reginald (1905–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/walker-clifton-reginald-11937/text21391, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 25 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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