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Ted Docker (1894–1983)

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Docker, Ted (1894-1983) carpenter and Communist leader 

Birth: 26 November 1894 at Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, son of Henry James Docker (1861-1933), carpenter, born at Northamptonshire, England, and Susan Gertrude, née Nash (1855-1940), born at Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland. Marriage: 1940 at Sydney to Elsie Levy (1912-1988), born in London, England. They had two daughters and one son. Death: 18 March 1983 in a nursing home at Bondi, Sydney; usual residence Wellington Street, Bondi. 

  • His mother had arrived in Sydney aboard the Clyde with her sister Harriet on 23 June 1881; his father aboard the Chimborazo on 28 October 1883.
  • Ted joined the Industrial Workers of the World. Helped form Industrial Labor Party following banning.
  • In 1920 he was a foundation member of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Inflexible Stalinist, compared to Mussolini for authoritarianism. Once proclaimed, ‘There is no room in the Communist Party for slight differences of opinion-we must be on the line completely’.
  • Held many offices in CPA including NSW State secretary and member of the Central Committee and Political Committee.
  • Activist in timberworker’s strike, sent as organiser to Rothbury lockout 1929-1930.
  • CPA emissary Kalgoorlie, WA, in 1934, sent to liquidate factional strike in CPA branch, playing honourable role in attempting to diffuse racism between workers accompanying serious riots, stressing role of mine management. Spoke at funeral of Joseph Katich, Yugoslav worker killed.
  • In 1935, attended Lenin School, Moscow and Congress of Comintern.
  • Active in waterside workers’ strike 1938, miners strike 1949. Associated with formation of Building Workers' Industrial Union of Australia.
  • By 1983 he was last surviving CPA founding member. Remained aligned with the party though was critical of its ‘revisionism’ from the late 1960s.
  • Cause of death: broncho pneumonia, fractured femur and Parkinsons disease.

Stuart Macintyre, The Reds: The Communist Party of Australia from origins to illegality (Sydney, 1998); Labour History, 31; Jean Devanny, Point of departure; the autobiography of Jean Devanny (St Lucia, 1986; The Socialist, 30 March 1983; Malcolm Henry Ellis, The red road: the story of the capture of the Lang party by Communists, instructed from Moscow (Sydney [1932]) and The Garden path (Sydney, 1949); Tribune, 6 April 1983; John Docker, Growing up Communist and Jewish in Bondi (3 volumes, 2020).

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Citation details

'Docker, Ted (1894–1983)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Ted Docker

Ted Docker

Tribune (Sydney), 14 May 1980, p 11

Life Summary [details]


26 November, 1894
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


18 March, 1983 (aged 88)
Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

fracture (femur)

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