Earle Christmas Grafton Page – Fact sheet 77

Earle Christmas Grafton Page
Earle Christmas Grafton Page (NAA: A1200, L69705)

Prime Minister of Australia 7–26 April 1939

Born in the New South Wales coastal centre of Grafton in 1880, Earle Page studied medicine at Sydney University, prior to joining a medical practice in his home town in 1902. Page spent the years prior to World War I building his business and political interests around the northern rivers. He served as a doctor in the First AIF from 1916 to 1917.

Page successfully contested the seat of Cowper in the 1919 federal election as a representative of the Farmers and Settlers' Association. Along with ten other members elected on similar tickets, Page formed the Country Party in 1920 and, in 1921, emerged as its parliamentary leader. After the 1922 elections, Page used Country Party numbers to influence the governing Nationalist Party to replace its leader 'Billy' Hughes with Stanley Bruce and to accept the Country Party as its partner in a coalition government. Page became Deputy Prime Minister to Bruce, and Treasurer in the Bruce–Page government of 1923 to 1929.

Out of office through the period of James Scullin's Labor government, and during the first term of the Joseph Lyons' United Australia Party (UAP) government, Page again became Deputy Prime Minister after the 1934 election when the UAP needed Country Party support to govern. He served as Minister for Commerce, and later Minister for Health in this coalition government.

Lyons died in Office on 7 April 1939, and Page was sworn in as Prime Minister until the new UAP leader, Menzies, was selected. Menzies became Prime Minister on 26 April 1939. Differences between Page and Menzies saw the Country party excluded from Menzies' first government, and Page's subsequent stepdown from Country Party leadership.

Page served as Minister for Commerce (1940–41) and Minister for Health (1949–56) in the postwar Menzies government. He died in 1961.

Records about Earle Page held by the National Archives

The National Archives holds many records relating to Earle Page's long period in parliament, and especially his years as a government minister. While his period as Prime Minister was brief, he was Deputy Prime Minister for a number of years and as a consequence also served as Acting Prime Minister.

In the tables below, reference numbers direct you to the item or series in RecordSearch, the Archives database. There you can find more information. In many cases you can view entire digitised records. The information will appear in a new browser window.

Personal records of Earle Page

Other records relating to Earle Page

Other records relating to Earle Page – in Sydney

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemPage, the Rt Hon. Doctor Earle (sound recording)1935C102, POL3
ItemAnnouncement of death of Joseph Lyons (sound recording)1939C102, POL9
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017