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Rex Chiplin (1915–1990)

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This entry is from People Australia

Rex Chiplin (1915-1990) journalist, Communist 

Birth: 25 March 1915 at Kempsey, New South Wales, youngest of three sons of native-born parents Percy Valentine Chiplin (1884-1919), clerk of petty sessions, and Grace Susan Glasson, née Carter (1890-1968). Marriages: (1) 1944 in Sydney to Annette Elizabeth Moore. The marriage ended in divorce. (2) 29 August 1951 in the Registrar General’s office, Sydney, to Melbourne-born Vivienne Napier Bon. They had one daughter and one son before the marriage ended in divorce. Death: 17 October 1990 in a nursing home at Murwillumbah, NSW. 

  • His father committed suicide in January 1919.
  • Became a cadre of Communist Party of Australia. Industrial worker and radio script writer.
  • Editor Progress, 1944-45. Tribune journalist from 1945. After 1950 was a Canberra roundsman.
  • He was fed low grade intelligence material by Australian Security Intelligence Office agent who became his lover such that some articles on treaties etc apparently reflected security breach, inspiring R. G. Casey’s famous remarks re ‘nest of traitors’.
  • Awarded codename ‘CHARLIE’ in Moscow Letters. Met Vladimir Petrov twice. Appeared before Petrov Royal Commission in 1955 where, with ‘quiet and firm dignity’ (Tribune), he refused to name sources, though Manne says his evidence was ‘mendacious’. He was later approached to be an ASIO agent but declined.
  • Became managing director of Rupert Murdoch’s Cumberland Press.
  • Saw former ASIO agent/lover at North Sydney railway station in 1974, ‘but they did not discuss old times’.
  • Author of Where is the Nest of Traitors (Sydney 1952) and Over the Wall (1957).
  • Cause of death: hypostatic pneumonia, ischaemic heart disease, alzheimer's disease, arthritis and cachexia.

Nicholas Whitlam and John Stubbs, Nest of Traitors: the Petrov affair (Sydney, 1974); Manne, The Petrov affair: politics and espionage, (Sydney, 1987); David McKnight, Australia’s spies and their secrets (Sydney, 1994); Desmond Ball & David Horner, Breaking the codes: Australia’s KGB network 1944-1950) (Sydney, 1998); John Playford Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis, ANU, 1962; Tribune (Sydney), 9 March 1955.

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Citation details

'Chiplin, Rex (1915–1990)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 July 2024.

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