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Earle Page


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(b. 8 Aug. 1880, d. 20 Dec. 1961).

Australian politician Born at Grafton (New South Wales), he graduated from the University of Sydney and became a successful surgeon. After service in World War I, Grafton was elected to federal parliament with the endorsement of the Farmers' and Settlers' Association, With ten other representatives of farming interests, he created the Federal Country Party (National Party). Its leader from 1921, he became instrumental in the fall of Hughes in 1923, forming a coalition with Bruce as Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer (until 1929). Page reorganized federal–state budget relations, so the federal government gained control over public borrowing. In opposition from 1931, he rejoined the Cabinet when Lyons lost his absolute majority in 1934. This time he was very much a junior partner in the coalition, with much less responsibility and freedom of action than he had enjoyed under Bruce. He became caretaker Prime Minister for nineteen days upon the sudden death of Lyons in 1939, while the United Australia Party chose a successor. A few months later he lost the leadership of his party, following a strong attack on the Prime Minister, Menzies. He served as Australia's representative on the British War Cabinet (1941–2) and, back in Australia, was member of the Advisory War Council (1942–5). As Minister for Health (1949–56), his main achievement was the introduction of a national health scheme in 1953.

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