Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page, (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.