Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Earle Page

When I wrote about Pattie Menzies, I mentioned that Earle Page had issues with her husband. I said I'd write more about them when I researched Robert Menzies. I hadn't realized that Page was on my list too, and that he came before Menzies. So I guess we'll learn more about it today.

Lord Wiki has a photograph of Page. He's kind of handsome...in an interesting way.

Page was Prime Minister number eleven.

He came after Joseph Lyons, and before Menzies.

Oh! Wow. His time in office was very short. Nineteen days! Crap. Although I think there's a Prime Minister who had an even shorter time than that. I think I'm going to be writing about him in a few days. Francis Ford. Is that his name? Well, sort of. I just checked. It's Francis Forde. I forgot the e. Forde was Prime Minister for only seven days.

Baby Earle was born in Grafton, New South Wales, on 8 August 1880. I'm looking at Google Maps. Grafton is way up north, near Coffs Harbour.

For school, Page went to Sydney Boys High School. It doesn't look like a boarding school, so I'm guessing the whole family moved to Sydney.

Oh! This is the school we saw when we got lost on the way to Moore Park. I think it's a government school. I didn't realize that. I assumed it was private.

After finishing at Sydney Boys High School, Page went to the University of Sydney. He studied medicine, and did very well with that. He graduated in 1901, the same year that Australia became a Federation.

Lord Wiki says that Page was one of the first Australians to own a car. That was in 1904. I love hearing technology history, because I'm so ignorant when it comes to that. I never remember when stuff was invented, or became readily available.

Page practiced medicine in Sydney, and Grafton. I wonder why he returned to Grafton. Did the family have roots there? Relatives?

When the first world war happened, Page helped out by doing medical stuff in Egypt. After the war, he started farming in Grafton. Then he became mayor of Grafton. Why did he start farming? What happened to the medical career? Did something traumatize him during the war?

In 1919 Page joined Parliament with the seat of Cowper. At first he was part of the Farmers and Settlers Association. But then that merged into the Country Party. By 1921, Page was the leader of this Country Party.

Lord Wiki says the Country Party was formed because some people weren't satisfied with Billy Hughes' Nationalist Party. They didn't like that party's rural policies. Then Page and the Country Party offered to support the Nationalist Party under one condition....that they push Hughes out as leader. And the Nationalist Party obliged. That kind of reminds me of the William McMahon and John McEwen fiasco.

Stanley Bruce became the new leader of the Nationalist Party. Page made some negotiations with him. Well, they were more like demands. I guess that's how a coalition works.

Lord Wiki says that Page became Australia's first Deputy Prime Minister, although the title wasn't invented until 1968.

I thought Cooke had been a deputy, but I guess he was Deputy Premier. That would be a different thing, I suppose.

Lord Wiki says that a person from the Country or National Party almost always has that second place position when a non-Labor party is in power. Is that true?

Well, it looks like it is....unless Lord Wiki is trying to fool me. He shows that John Howard had three National Deputy Prime Ministers. Fraser and McMahon had Doug Anthony who was from the National Country party. Gorton had McEwen, who was from the Country Party.

Back to Page....

Despite his farming and political adventures, he continued with the medical stuff. Ah, okay. I had assumed he gave it up to farm.

In 1924, Page operated on his best friend's wife, and she died. That was very hard on him....of course. She had stomach cancer though. How much hope could there be? Even today, the diagnosis is pretty dreadful.

Bruce was in power until 1929. Lord Wiki says that during this time, Page was very conservative when it came to finances. However, in terms of farmers, Page was more open to the idea of freely spending government money. Interesting.

When Labor came into power, Page became part of the Opposition. Then Joseph Lyons abandoned the Labor Party, and the United Australia Party was formed. At first, the new party didn't need support from The Country Party, but then by 1934, they realized they did. Page climbed aboard. He became Minister for Commerce.

In 1939, Lyons died in office. The Governor-General appointed Page to be Prime Minister, but it was only supposed to be temporary. He was in place until the United Australia Party could elect a new leader.

Now we get to the Page/Menzies drama. Page didn't like Menzies because he felt Menzies had been disloyal to Lyons, and Page liked Lyons.

The United Australia Party elected Menzies as the new leader. Page was very unhappy with this, and refused to serve under him. Not only that, but he publicly and harshly denounced him in Parliament. He accused Menzies of being incompetent, and he also accused him of taking the cowardly choice of not participating in World War I.

The explicit animosity didn't last though. In 1940, the two men patched up their differences so Page could help with World War II issues. Page returned to Parliament as Minister for Commerce. When Labor came into power later, Page joined the Opposition backbench.

Here's some interesting trivia. At one time, Page proposed dividing Australia up into twelve states. He wanted Queensland to become four states, Northern Territory would become two, and I don't really understand the other boundary changes.

When Menzies came back into power, Page became Minister of Health. It's nice that Menzies forgave him for the mean stuff he had said. Or maybe he didn't forgive, but put aside his grievances for the benefit of the country.

Page stayed in Parliament for a very long time. Lord Wiki says he wins for staying in the same Parliamentary seat for the longest time. Even when he had lung cancer, he wouldn't step down. Unfortunately though, he lost the election, and had to give up his seat anyway. He had that seat from 1919-1961. Very impressive.

Well, actually Page was in a coma by the time the election came about. He died a few days later, never learning that he had lost. I guess that's good. Although I believe in spirits and all that, so I think he would have figured it out. Hopefully, he wasn't insulted. I'm guessing most people voted against him because they knew he had health issues, and needed to take time to rest.

I'm done with Lord Wiki. Which of my favorite Prime Minister sites should I go to next?

I flipped the coin, and got the government Prime Minister site. They say, Page spoke at a rapid rate, rarely pausing for breath. I've been told I talk fast. I do think I breath though. Maybe.

The Fast Facts page says that Page was the father of health insurance. I wonder what that means.

Here's the Before Office page. It's confusing to talk about web pages, when the guy I'm talking about is named Page.

The website says Page had ten siblings. He was the fifth child of the family.

Daddy Page was a blacksmith.

Page went to school in Grafton. He did only one year at Sydney Boys High School. He got a scholarship to the school. So I guess maybe the family hadn't moved down to Sydney. Perhaps the school did have housing back then, or maybe Page found a friend or relative to live with?

Page had been only fourteen when he had that final year of schooling. I guess he was smart, and advanced. He went to the University of Sydney after that. He won another scholarship, and then soon joined the school of medicine.

By 1900 he had what was needed to practice medicine. For two years, he worked as a house surgeon. Then he became a Pathologist for Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

What is a house surgeon? Is it a doctor who makes house calls? And why do doctors not make house calls anymore? This is something I've been wondering for a long time. It's such a pain to drag yourself (or child) out of the house when they're sick. And then you're in the doctor's office, where you expose yourself to many more germs.

Well, this medical dictionary website says it's not a doctor who makes house calls. The "house" here means hospital. It's pretty much the surgeon of the hospital.

Oh good. It looks like there ARE still doctors who make house calls.

In 1903, Page returned to Grafton and opened up a small hospital there. Page was a fan of new technology. Remember he bought that car? Then he also ended up with New South Wale's first X-Ray machine. That's pretty cool.

When Grafton started his new hospital, he appointed a woman named Ethal Blunt to be the hospital matron. I guess there was also something romantic going on. She later became his wife.

It seems that Page had a passion for both medicine and farming. In 1910, Mr. and Mrs. Page traveled to New Zealand for a medical conference. While they were there, they also looked at some hydro-electricity projects. Page then wanted a hydro-electric scheme for Grafton's Clarence River. And this is how he first got involved with politics. I'm sure other politicians have gotten their start that way....getting involved in hopes of making a specific change. In some ways, I'd prefer a politician over this. I think it's better than one who joins politics because they want the fame, power, and prestige.

Here's something that Lord Wiki didn't mention...or maybe I missed it. In 1915, Page started a group called the Northern New South Wales Separation League. The name pretty much explains it. They wanted Northern New South Wales to become a new state.

In 1916, Page did medical war stuff. Then he returned in 1917.

In 1920, the Page family moved to Sydney. This was soon after Page got the seat in Federal Parliament. Sydney was the midpoint between Parliament in Melbourne, and Page's electoral area. When did Parliament move again?

Lord Wiki says it was 1927. I wonder if the Page family moved to Canberra then.

I'm kind of skimming right now. Sorry.

In 1933, the Page family had a tragedy. Their eldest son was killed by lightning. Page considered resigning as leader of the Country Party, but then instead just took a leave of absence.

Here's the page about Page's time in office. The website says that Lyons was the first Prime Minister to die in office, and folks were a bit confused about what to do next. I guess they didn't have a death-of-the-Prime-Minister drill.

Three weeks earlier, Menzies had resigned as the deputy of the United Australia Party. Maybe this is the big betrayal that has been mentioned.

Page went to talk to the Governor-General who told him he could be Prime Minister until someone new was elected.

Page wanted Stanley Bruce to become Prime Minister again. He pushed Bruce to take that route. He even offered Bruce his beloved Cowper seat. Bruce said he'd do it, but only if he could be an independent with the Country and United Australia party supporting him.

I'm trying to understand this here. What I'm getting is that Bruce was stuck traveling, and didn't return in time for the vote. Well, I'm not sure you needed to actually be there for the vote. More importantly, the desire for Bruce to be Prime Minister again wasn't the majority opinion.

Menzies won the vote. Page made the angry speech. It sounds like he alienated many people. Members of the Country Party withdrew themselves from Page's leadership, and then stood as independents.

This page has information about Mrs. Page. The lovely couple met when Mr. Page was in his first year of practicing medicine.

When their son died, Mrs. Page had a slight stroke. Maybe the stress caused it? This article, in a science magazine, says it seems likely that there is a connection between strokes and stress. In a novel I just read, one of the main characters had a stroke after reading unsettling news. I wasn't sure if that was supposed to be connected, or an unfortunate coincidence.

The other possibility though is that when a stroke is impending, maybe it causes the person to feel especially stressed. They may overreact to certain situations and dramas. Well, it's hard to overreact to one's son dying in a lightening accident. I don't think there's ANY overreaction to the death of a loved one. However, many people experience the death of a family member, and don't have a stroke. Maybe THAT'S why people are given something to help them sleep when a horrible trauma occurs. I always assumed it was part of modern society's avoidance of negative emotions. But maybe doctors are trying to prevent a stroke.

I guess the Page family didn't live in Canberra. The website says she and the children divided their time between a a flat in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, and a home near Clarance River in Grafton.

Here's the After Office Page.

There's some stuff about the health insurance. When Menzies became Prime Minister for the second time in 1949, Page became Minister of Health. I'd really like to know more about how Menzies and Page patched up their differences.

Anyway, Page helped come up with a plan that would include free pharmaceuticals, and free medical care for those in need. Yet the website says, The National Health Act, introduced in 1953, was seen by Page as a ‘bulwark against the socialisation of medicine. I'm totally confused. What's the difference between Page's plan, and socialized medicine?

In 1956, Page retired from being Minister of Health. He went to the backbench where he kept active with hydro-electric issues.

In 1958, his wife died. Page remarried, and Stanley Bruce was his best man. Yeah, I guess those guys were pretty close. I wonder if Menzies had been invited to the wedding.

When Page himself died, he was cremated. His ashes were scattered in the Clarence River. That's sweet. I know that river had been important to him.

Now I'm going to read the Australian Dictionary of Biography....well, not the whole thing. I'm just going to read the bit about Earl Page.

Daddy Page had been from London. Mommy Page was from Tasmania.

The family ran into some major financial problems, so Page's scholarships were very helpful.

Yikes. While doing the pathology thing at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Page contracted a nearly fatal infection. This came after a postmortem examination. That's pretty scary. I think I'd be freaked out if someone that lived with me had that job. I'd be paranoid about germs. It's a little scary really if anyone you know works in the medical profession. You have to hope they change their clothes and wash their hands before hugging you.

Do I sound a little germ-phobic? I am...somewhat, but not as bad as some people. When we go to the doctor though, we rush into the shower. I always feel we're taking out more germs than we brought in.

I haven't always been this medical-weary. I spent tons of time in the hospital when my sister was there, and also paid many visits to my grandfather. I think it's my friend's fault. She's VERY germaphobic. She was talking about how hospitals are full of germs, and I thought she was nuts. Of course, hospitals don't have germs! They're so careful there. If there's anywhere you can trust to be clean, it's a hospital.

Then I learned that she was right, and I was wrong. Yeah. I think that's where my fear began.

Certain folks are so ready to attack Alternative Medicine. There are those militant quackbusters out there. And I do think there ARE dangers sometimes to alternative medicine. But Western Medicine isn't always so safe either.

This article from February says that 48,000 people a year die from hospital-related infections. I guess that would be in the United States.

I'm not sure how that compares to the fatalities caused by alternative medicine. I guess for that you'd have to include both people who died directly from a therapy, and also people who died as a result of NOT using Western medicine. Then the latter is complicated, because you can't always assume someone would have been saved if they did the conventional treatment. For example, if someone refuses to get surgery or chemotherapy for cancer, and they die...we can't assume they would have survived WITH the surgery and/or chemo.

Oops, sorry....major tangent there.

The biographical dictionary says that Page's wife didn't like life out in the country, and she was happy to move to Sydney. That's surprising to me. I kind of imagined them both loving the rural life. I don't know why.

With the family living in Sydney, and Page busy with politics, he was only able to see them about every two or three weeks. I can imagine that's rough. Well, we've had times like that with Tim, but they lasted a few months rather than many years.

Page did horseback riding, and played tennis.

He was impatient, and had a quick-mind. I feel I'm somewhat impatient. And I do talk fast and read fast, which probably indicates I have a quick-mind. Maybe those things are connected.

Well, I think I'm going to quit here.


  1. One thing you didn't mention was that Earle Page was the first Chancellor of the University of New England (my university), and that one of the residential colleges there is named for him, Earle Page College.

  2. I knew little about Earle Page outside politics before reading this, so thanks for the summary.

    He steered the federal Country Party into coalition with the conservatives at a time the Victorians were more neutral and willing to deal with Labor.

    It's good you mentioned his proposal for more states. That was a widely held view in Australia before the Second World War. I don't know what killed it. Personally I think it would have been great.

    I believe you've only got Artie Fadden left to do for Country Party Prime Ministers.

    A character I find fascinating, and one you might look at, is former Victorian Premier Ned Hogan, who switched from Labor to the Country Party. I came across him while I was in Kalgoorlie.

  3. Stephen: Uh..Well, see... I DID mention it. It's just I wrote it with my magical invisible ink keyboard.

    Yeah...no, I probably missed that part. Thanks for helping and providing the info : )

    Michael: I've done Fadden...he's on one of my scheduled posts somewhere down the line. Maybe it's today? I'm not sure. But it will be posted soon. Thanks for giving me Ned Hogan's name. I think that will be interesting to me.