Sir Earle Page
|11th Prime Minister of Australia|
7 April 1939 –26 April 1939
|Preceded by||Joseph Lyons|
|Succeeded by||Robert Menzies|
| Leader of the Country Party |
Elections: 1922, 1925, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1934, 1937
5 April 1921 –13 September 1939
|Preceded by||William McWilliams|
|Succeeded by||Archie Cameron|
|Treasurer of Australia|
9 February 1923 –21 October 1929
|Prime Minister||Stanley Bruce|
|Preceded by||Stanley Bruce|
|Succeeded by||Ted Theodore|
|Minister for Commerce|
9 November 1932 –26 April 1939
|Prime Minister||Joseph Lyons|
|Preceded by||Frederick Stewart|
|Succeeded by||George McLeay|
28 October 1940 –7 October 1941
|Prime Minister||Robert Menzies|
|Preceded by||Archie Cameron|
|Succeeded by||William Scully|
|Minister for Health|
29 November 1937 –7 November 1938
|Prime Minister||Joseph Lyons|
|Preceded by||Billy Hughes|
|Succeeded by||Harry Foll|
19 December 1949 –11 January 1956
|Prime Minister||Robert Menzies|
|Preceded by||Nick McKenna|
|Succeeded by||Donald Cameron|
|Member of the Australian Parliament for Cowper|
13 December 1919 –9 December 1961
|Preceded by||John Thomson|
|Succeeded by||Frank McGuren|
Earle Christmas Grafton Page
8 August 1880
Grafton, New South Wales, Australia
|Died||20 December 1961 81) (aged|
Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
(m. 1906;died 1958)
Jean Thomas(m. 1959)
|Relatives|| Harold Page (brother)|
Robert Page (nephew)
Geoffrey Page (grandson)
Donald Page, Jr. (grandson)
|Education||Grafton Public School|
Sydney Boys High School
|Alma mater||University of Sydney|
|Occupation||Doctor, surgeon, politician|
Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, GCMG, CH (8 August 1880 –20 December 1961) was an Australian politician who served as the 11th Prime Minister of Australia, holding office for 19 days after the death of Joseph Lyons in 1939. He was the leader of the Country Party from 1921 to 1939, and was the most influential figure in its early years.
The Prime Minister of Australia is the head of government of Australia. The individual who holds the office is the most senior Minister of State, the leader of the Federal Cabinet. The Prime Minister also has the responsibility of administering the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and is the chair of the National Security Committee and the Council of Australian Governments. The office of Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution of Australia but exists through Westminster political convention. The individual who holds the office is commissioned by the Governor-General of Australia and at the Governor-General's pleasure subject to the Constitution of Australia and constitutional conventions.
Joseph Aloysius Lyons was an Australian politician who served as the 10th Prime Minister of Australia, in office from 1932 until his death in 1939. He began his career in the Labor Party, but became the founding leader of the United Australia Party (UAP) after the 1931 party split. He had earlier served as Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928.
The National Party of Australia is an Australian political party. Traditionally representing graziers, farmers, and rural voters generally, it began as the Australian Country Party in 1920 at a federal level. It would later briefly adopt the name National Country Party in 1975, before adopting its current name in 1982.
Page was born in Grafton, New South Wales. He entered the University of Sydney at the age of 15, and completed a degree in medicine at the age of 21. After completing his residency at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, he moved back to Grafton and opened a private hospital. He soon became involved in local politics, and in 1915 purchased a part-share in The Daily Examiner , a local newspaper. He also briefly served as a military surgeon during World War I. Page gained prominence as an advocate of various development schemes for the Northern Rivers region, especially those involving hydroelectricity. He also helped found a movement for New England statehood.
Grafton is a city in the Northern Rivers region of the Australian state of New South Wales. It is located on the Clarence River, approximately 608 kilometres (378 mi) by road north-northeast of the state capital Sydney. The closest major cities, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, are located across the border in South-East Queensland. At June 2018 Grafton had a population of 19,078. The city is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Clarence Valley Council local government area, which is home to over 50,000 people in all.
The University of Sydney is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia's first university and is regarded as one of the world's leading universities. The university is colloquially known as one of Australia's sandstone universities. Its campus is ranked in the top 10 of the world's most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and The Huffington Post, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington. The university comprises nine faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital is a major public teaching hospital in Sydney, Australia, located on Missenden Road in Camperdown. It is a teaching hospital of the Central Clinical School of the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney and is situated in proximity to the Blackburn Building of the university's main campus. RPAH is the largest hospital in the Sydney Local Health District, with approximately 700 beds. Following a $350 million redevelopment, the perinatal hospital King George V Memorial Hospital has been incorporated into it.
In 1919, Page was elected to federal parliament representing the Division of Cowper. He joined the new Country Party the following year as its inaugural whip, and then replaced William McWilliams as party leader in 1921. Page opposed the economic policies of Prime Minister Billy Hughes, and when the Country Party gained the balance of power at the 1922 election, he demanded Hughes' resignation as the price for a coalition with the Nationalist Party. He was subsequently made Treasurer under the new prime minister, Stanley Bruce, serving in that role from 1923 to 1929. He had a significant degree of influence on domestic policy, with Bruce concentrating on international issues.
The 1919 Australian federal election was held on 13 December 1919 to elect members to the Parliament of Australia. All 75 seats in the House of Representatives and 19 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Nationalist Party government won re-election, with Prime Minister Billy Hughes continuing in office.
The Parliament of Australia is the legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the Crown, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The combination of two elected chambers, in which the members of the Senate represent the states and territories while the members of the House represent electoral divisions according to population, is modelled on the United States Congress. Through both chambers, however, there is a fused executive, drawn from the Westminster system.
The Division of Cowper is an Australian electoral division in the state of New South Wales.
Page returned to cabinet after the 1934 election, when the Country Party entered a new coalition with Joseph Lyons' United Australia Party. He was appointed Minister for Commerce, and concentrated on agricultural issues. When Lyons died in office in April 1939, Page was commissioned as his successor in a caretaker capacity while the UAP elected a new leader, Robert Menzies. Page subsequently refused to serve in Menzies' cabinet, withdrawing the Country Party from the coalition, but this proved unpopular and he resigned the party leadership after a few months. The coalition was eventually reconstituted, and Page served again as Minister for Commerce under Menzies and Arthur Fadden until the government's defeat in October 1941.
The 1934 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 15 September 1934. All 74 seats in the House of Representatives, and 18 of the 36 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent United Australia Party led by Prime Minister of Australia Joseph Lyons with coalition partner the Country Party led by Earle Page defeated the opposition Australian Labor Party led by James Scullin. Labor's share of the primary vote fell to an even lower number than in the 1931 election due to the Lang Labor split, but it was able to pick up an extra four seats on preferences and therefore improve on its position. The Coalition suffered an eight-seat swing, forcing Lyons to take the Country Party into his government.
The United Australia Party (UAP) was an Australian political party that was founded in 1931 and dissolved in 1945. The party won four federal elections in that time, usually governing in coalition with the Country Party. It provided two Prime Ministers of Australia – Joseph Lyons (1932–1939) and Robert Menzies (1939–1941).
The Minister for Agriculture in the Government of Australia is Bridget McKenzie, who took office in May 2019 following a rearrangement of the Second Morrison Ministry.
Page's last major role was as Minister for Health (1949–1956) in the post-war Menzies Government. He retired from cabinet at the age of 76, and died a short time after losing his seat at the 1961 election. Page served in parliament for almost 42 years, and only Menzies lasted longer as the leader of a major Australian political party. He secured his party's independence by refusing overtures to join the Nationalists and the UAP, and the policies that he favoured – decentralisation, agrarianism, and government support of primary industry – have remained the basis of its platform up to the present day. The coalitions that he established and maintained with Bruce and Lyons have served as a model for all subsequent coalition governments.
The Australian Minister for Health is responsible for national health and wellbeing and medical research. The Hon Greg Hunt has served as Minister for Health since 2017, and briefly left office in 2018 following criticism of the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull.
The Menzies Government (1949–1966) refers to the second period of federal executive government of Australia led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies. It was made up of members of a Liberal-Country Party coalition in the Australian Parliament from 1949–1966. Menzies led the Liberal-Country Coalition to election victories in 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961 and 1963. Robert Menzies was Australia's longest serving Prime Minister. He had served a previous term as Prime Minister as leader of the United Australia Party from 1939–1941.
The 1961 Australian federal election was held in Australia on 9 December 1961. All 122 seats in the House of Representatives and 31 of the 60 seats in the Senate were up for election. The incumbent Liberal–Country coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Menzies defeated the opposition Labor Party under Arthur Calwell. In his first election as Labor leader, Calwell significantly reduced the Coalition's margin, gaining 15 seats to leave the government with only a one-seat majority.
Earle Christmas Grafton Page was born in Grafton, New South Wales, on 8 August 1880. His first middle name, which he disliked, was given to him to carry on the surname of a childless relative, while his second middle name was in honour of his birthplace. Page was the fifth of eleven children born to Charles Page and Mary Johanna Haddon (Annie) Cox.His younger brother Harold was the deputy administrator of the Territory of New Guinea and a Japanese prisoner of war. Page's parents had both lived in Grafton since they were children. His mother was born in Tasmania to an English father and a Scottish mother. His father, born in London, was a successful businessman and a member of the Grafton City Council, serving a single term as mayor in 1908. The family business was a hardware manufacturing firm, which had its origins in a coachbuilding firm established in 1858 by Page's maternal grandfather, Edwin Cox. His other grandfather, James Page, arrived in Grafton in 1855, serving as the town's first schoolmaster and first town clerk.
Harold Hillis Page, was an Australian Army officer and public servant. He rose from private to major during the First World War, and was temporary commander of the 25th Battalion on several occasions. He subsequently joined the Commonwealth Public Service and was posted to the Territory of New Guinea, serving as government secretary from 1923 and as acting administrator on a number of occasions. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and is listed among those killed in the sinking of the SS Montevideo Maru.
The Territory of New Guinea was an Australian administered territory on the island of New Guinea from 1920 until 1975. In 1949, the Territory and the Territory of Papua were established in an administrative union by the name of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. That administrative union was renamed as Papua New Guinea in 1971. Notwithstanding that it was part of an administrative union, the Territory of New Guinea at all times retained a distinct legal status and identity until the advent of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 531,500 as of December 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.
Page began his schooling at Grafton Public School, where he excelled academically. His family could not afford to send him to boarding school, as a result of financial difficulties caused by the banking crisis of 1893. Page consequently had to rely on scholarships to advance his education.He won a bursary to attend Sydney Boys High School in 1895, where he passed the university entrance exams, and the following year – aged 15 – began studying a liberal arts course at the University of Sydney. He was equal top in mathematics in his first year, and was also awarded the lucrative Struth Exhibition for "general proficiency in the arts", which allowed him to switch to medicine and covered his first four years of medical school. His role model was Grafton Smith, who had followed a similar path from Grafton Public School to university. At Sydney Medical School, Page's lecturers included William Haswell (biology), James Hill (biology), Charles Martin (physiology), Anderson Stuart (physiology), and James Wilson (anatomy). He graduated at the top of his class in 1901, with the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.) and Master of Surgery (Ch.M.).
Page's first professional posting came before he had even been registered as a medical practitioner. Due to a shortage of doctors, he was acting superintendent of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children for one month.In 1902, he took up a position as a resident at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, serving in a variety of roles including as house surgeon under Robert Scot Skirving. During that time he contracted a near-fatal infection from a postmortem examination. He also met his future wife, nurse Ethel Blunt. Page returned to his home town in 1903, taking over a practice in South Grafton. He and two partners subsequently established a new private hospital, Clarence House Hospital, which opened in 1904 and served both Grafton and the surrounding region.
Page was a keen adopter of new technologies. In 1904, he bought what he claimed was "the first Rover car in Australia", which was powered by kerosene.He upgraded to an Itala in 1908, and had the chassis enlarged so it could be used as an ambulance. He also had an x-ray machine installed in his hospital, one of the first in Australia outside a major city. Page developed a reputation for surgical innovation, taking a number of patients from Sydney and even some from interstate. One operation that brought him particular fame was the removal of a patient's diseased lung, a procedure that had only been invented a few years previously. Page became an inaugural Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in 1927, and in 1942 was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (FRCS).
In February 1916, Page enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps. He served as chief medical officer aboard the troopship HMATBallarat, and was then stationed at an army hospital in Cairo for several months. He was transferred to a hospital in England in July 1916, and concluded his service as a surgical specialist at a casualty clearing station in France. Page returned to Australia in March 1917 and was discharged from the military in July 1917.Although his active involvement in medicine declined as his political career progressed, he was frequently called upon to treat his fellow MPs or parliamentary staff. This was particularly true after the federal government moved to Canberra, as the new capital had only a handful of qualified surgeons. In 1928, for instance, he performed an emergency appendectomy on Parker Moloney.
Page's medical career brought him considerable wealth, and he began investing in land. He bought several large farming properties in South-East Queensland, including in Nerang, Kandanga, and the Numinbah Valley; Pages Pinnacle in the Numinbah State Forest is named after him.His entry into public life came about as a result of his passion for hydroelectricity, which he first observed in New Zealand while attending a medical convention in 1910. He believed that it could be applied to the Northern Rivers region, which was still mostly unelectrified outside of the major towns. Page was elected to the South Grafton Municipal Council in 1913, believing his position as an alderman would be useful in his lobbying efforts. However, his overtures to the state government were rebuffed. In 1915, Page was one of the founders of the Northern New South Wales Separation League, which advocated the creation of a new state in the New England region. He toured a number of towns to raise awareness of the new movement, but interest waned as a result of the ongoing war. Later that year, he was part of a syndicate that bought The Daily Examiner , the local newspaper in Grafton.
Page visited a number of hydroelectric sites in North America in 1917, on his way back from military service in France. He was elected mayor of South Grafton in 1918, serving until 1920, and also became the inaugural president of the North Coast Development League. He developed more concrete plans for a hydroelectric project on the Clarence River, and put forward various other development schemes relating to roads, railways, and ports, all of which served to raise his profile in the local district. Page was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1919 federal election, defeating the sitting Nationalist MP, John Thomson in the Division of Cowper. He stood as an independent with the endorsement of the Farmers' and Settlers' Association, and after the election joined the new Country Party, along with 10 other MPs from rural seats. Page continued to advocate for hydroelectricity throughout his political career, and many such projects were built in New South Wales. However, the specific scheme he favoured for the Clarence River was never put in place, only the smaller Nymboida Power Station. Decentralisation also remained a pet project, with Page frequently arguing for New South Wales and Queensland to be divided into smaller states to aid regional development. The movement for New England statehood waned in the 1920s, but re-emerged in the 1950s; a legally binding referendum on the subject was finally held in 1967, after Page's death, but was narrowly defeated in controversial circumstances.
Page was elected leader of the Country Party in 1921, replacing William McWilliams. The fledgling Country Party found itself with the balance of power in the House after the 1922 election. The Nationalist government of Billy Hughes lost its majority, and could not govern without Country Party support. It soon became apparent that the price for that support would be a full coalition with the Nationalists. However, the Country Party had been formed partly due to discontent with Hughes' rural policy, and Page's animosity toward Hughes was such that he would not even consider supporting him. Indeed, he would not even begin talks with the Nationalists as long as Hughes remained leader. Bowing to the inevitable, Hughes resigned.
Page then began negotiations with Hughes' successor as leader of the Nationalists, Stanley Bruce. His terms were stiff; he wanted his Country Party to have five seats in an 11-man cabinet, including the post of Treasurer and the second rank in the ministry for himself. These demands were unprecedented for a prospective junior coalition partner in a Westminster system, and especially so for such a new party. Nonetheless, Bruce agreed rather than force another election.For all intents and purposes, Page was the first Deputy Prime Minister of Australia (a title that did not officially exist until 1968). Since then, the leader of the Country/National Party has been the second-ranking member in nearly every non-Labor government.
On 30 January 1924, as acting prime minister, Page chaired the first meeting of Federal Cabinet ever held in Canberra, at Yarralumla.This was still three years before the opening of Parliament House and Canberra becoming the National Capital.
Page continued his professional medical practice. On 22 October 1924, he had to tell his best friend, Thomas Shorten Cole (1870–1957), the news that his wife Mary Ann Crane had just died on the operating table from complications of intestinal or stomach cancer, reputed by their daughter Dorothy May Cole to be "the worst day of his life".[ citation needed ]
He was a strong believer in orthodox finance and conservative policies, except where the welfare of farmers was concerned: then he was happy to see government money spent freely. He was also a "high protectionist": a supporter of high tariff barriers to protect Australian rural industries.
The Bruce-Page government was heavily defeated by Labor in 1929 (with Bruce losing his own seat), and Page went into opposition. In 1931, a group of dissident Labor MPs led by Joseph Lyons merged with the Nationalists to form the United Australia Party under Lyons' leadership. Lyons and The UAP–Country Coalition won a comprehensive victory in the 1931 election. However, the UAP came up four seats short of a majority, and was able to secure a bare majority when the Emergency Committee of South Australia joined forces with the UAP. Although Lyons was keen to form a coalition with the Country Party, talks broke down, and Lyons opted to govern alone—to date, the last time that the Country/National Party has not had any posts in a non-Labor government. In 1934, however, the UAP suffered an eight-seat swing, forcing Lyons to take the Country Party back into his government in a full-fledged Coalition. Page became Minister for Commerce. He was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in the New Year’s Day Honours of 1938.While nine Australian Prime Ministers were knighted (and Bruce was elevated to the peerage), Page is the only one who was knighted before becoming Prime Minister.
When Lyons died suddenly in 1939, the Governor-General Lord Gowrie appointed Page as caretaker Prime Minister pending the UAP choosing a new leader. He held the office for three weeks until the UAP elected former deputy leader Robert Menzies as its new leader, and hence Prime Minister.Page had been close to Lyons, but disliked Menzies, whom he charged publicly with having been disloyal to Lyons. Page contacted Stanley Bruce (now in London as Australian High Commissioner to the UK) and offered to resign his seat if Bruce would return to Australia to seek re-election to the parliament in a by-election for Page's old seat, and then seek election as UAP leader. Bruce said that he would only re-enter the parliament as an independent.
When Menzies was elected UAP leader, Page refused to serve under him, and made an extraordinary personal attack on him in the House, accusing him not only of ministerial incompetence but of physical cowardice (for failing to enlist during World War I). His party soon rebelled, though, and Page was deposed as Country Party leader in favour of Archie Cameron.
In 1940 Page and Menzies patched up their differences for the sake of the war effort, and Page returned to the cabinet as Minister for Commerce.Nevertheless, Page's accusations were not forgotten and were occasionally raised in parliament by Menzies' opponents (notably Eddie Ward). In 1941, the government fell; and Page spent the eight years of the Curtin and Chifley Labor governments on the opposition backbench. He was made a Companion of Honour (CH) in June 1942.
Menzies returned to the prime ministership in 1949, and Page was made Minister for Health. He oversaw the passage of the National Health Act 1953 . He retired from cabinet at the age of 76, moving to the backbench in 1956.Upon the death of Billy Hughes in October 1952, Page became the Father of the House of Representatives and Father of the Parliament.
Page was the first Chancellor of the University of New England, which was established in 1954.
By the 1961 election, Page was gravely ill, suffering from lung cancer.Although he was too sick to actively campaign, Page refused to even consider retiring from Parliament and soldiered on for his 17th general election. In one of the great upsets of Australian electoral history, he lost his seat to Labor challenger Frank McGuren, whom he had defeated soundly in 1958. Page had gone into the election holding Cowper with what appeared to be an insurmountable 11-point majority, but McGuren managed to win the seat on a swing of 13%.
Page had campaigned sporadically before going to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney for emergency surgery. He went comatose a few days before the election and never regained consciousness. He died on 20 December, 11 days after the election, without ever knowing that he had been defeated.
He was the last former Prime Minister to lose his seat until Tony Abbott lost his seat of Warringah in 2019, though John Howard would lose his seat of Bennelong as a sitting Prime Minister in 2007.
Page had represented Cowper for just four days short of 42 years, making him the longest-serving Australian federal parliamentarian who represented the same seat throughout his career. Only Billy Hughes and Philip Ruddock have served in Parliament longer than Page.
Page married Ethel Blunt on 18 September 1906. They had met at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital while he was undertaking his medical residency; she was a senior nurse there. Page soon began courting her, and convinced her to become the matron of his new hospital in Grafton. She gave up nursing after their marriage, but was active in politics and community organisations. The couple had five children: Mary (b. 1909), Earle Jr. (b. 1910), Donald (b. 1912), Iven (b. 1914), and Douglas (b. 1916). Their grandchildren include Don Page, who was active in New South Wales state politics, and Geoff Page, a poet.
Page was predeceased by his first wife and his oldest son. Earle Jr., a qualified veterinarian, was killed by a lightning strike in January 1933, aged 22.Ethel died in May 1958, aged 82, after a long illness. On 20 July 1959 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, Page married for a second time, wedding his long-serving secretary Jean Thomas (32 years his junior). Stanley Bruce was his best man. The second Lady Page lived for almost 50 years after her husband's death, dying on 20 June 2011; her ashes were interred at Northern Suburbs Crematorium.
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|Parliament of Australia|
| Member for Cowper |
| Father of the House of Representatives |
| Father of the Parliament |
|Party political offices|
|New political party|| Leader of the Country Party |
|New title|| Federal President of the Country Party |
| Prime Minister of Australia |
| Treasurer of Australia |
E G Theodore
| Minister for Commerce |
| Minister for Health |
| Minister for Commerce|
| Minister for Health|
|New title|| Chancellor of the University of New England |