|11th Prime Minister of Australia
7 to 26 April 1939
Earle Page was a member of Federal Parliament for 42 years (1919-61), making him the third longest serving member. He became the second leader of the Country Party in 1921, serving for 18 years. He served as Treasurer (1923-9), Minister for Commerce (1932-9, 40-1) and Minister for Health (1949-56).
Earle Christmas Grafton Page was born in Grafton, New South Wales on 8 August 1880, fifth of eleven children of London-born Charles Page, blacksmith and coachbuilder, and his Tasmanian wife Mary Johanna Hadden, née Cox. Harold Hillis and Rodger Clarence George Page were brothers. Encouraged by his mother, Page excelled at Grafton Public School and won scholarships to Sydney Boys' High School and the University of Sydney (M.B., Ch.M., 1902). The money was essential as his father had landed himself in acute and lasting financial difficulties in the 1890s depression. Page entered university at 15 and after a year of arts enrolled in medicine and eventually topped the final year.
After working as a house surgeon at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital he returned to Grafton in 1903, where he built up an extensive country practice and opened a progressive private hospital.
Page married Ethel Blunt in 1906, and they had five children. Page moved into different areas of business, buying a timber mill and dairy farms, and part-owned the Grafton Daily Examiner. He became a well-known figure in the Farmers and Settlers Association. In 1915 he founded the Northern NSW Separation League, which aimed to achieve separate statehood for the north-eastern region of NSW.
Earle Page enlisted as a surgeon with the Army Medical Corps in 1916 and spent 15 months working in military hospitals in Egypt, England and France. In 1918 he was elected mayor of South Grafton and set up the Nymboida hydro-electric scheme. He was elected to Federal Parliament in 1919 and became leader of the newly estab;ished Country Party in 1921.
Following the death of Joe Lyons in September 1939, he served 19 days as Prime Minister while the dominant United Australia Party chose a new leader, Robert Menzies. Page had been close to Lyons, but disliked Menzies, whom he charged publicly with having been disloyal to Lyons. Page refused to serve under him, and made an extraordinary personal attack on him in the House. His party rebelled and replaced him as leader. He returned to the Ministry the following year to assist the war effort.
Page's grandson, Don Page, was a National MP in the NSW Parliament (1988-2015), serving as Deputy Leader of the NSW Nationals (2003-7) and Minister for Local Government (2011-14). Another grandson, Earle Bailey, was a televsion personality who served a term as a National MP in the Queensland Parliament (1983-86).
PAGE—BLUNT. — September 18, at Methodist Church, Ashfield, by Rev. J. Bryant F.R.G.S., with Rev. Roger G. C. Page, brother of bridegroom, assisting Earle Page, M.B., Ch. M., fourth son of Charles Page, Hadden House, Grafton, to Ethel Esther, eldest daughter of the late Frederick Blunt, of Sydney.
He delivered Lewis Ellem into this world in 1915.
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