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Alexander Downer: Earle Page Politics Speech

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, has delivered a speech on Australian foreign policy and politics at the University of New England in Armidale.

Downer gave the Earle Page College’s Annual Politics Dinner speech. [Read more…]


Earle Page’s Speech Attacking Robert Menzies

Sir Earle Page was Prime Minister for three weeks in April 1939, following the death of Joseph Lyons and pending the United Australia Party’s election of Robert Menzies as its new leader.

PageLyons died on Good Friday, April 7, 1939. Page, the leader of the Country Party, was prime minister for 20 days from April 7 until April 26.

On April 18, the United Australia Party elected Menzies as its new leader. He defeated Billy Hughes by 23 votes to 19. Hughes, 76, had previously been prime minister from 1915 until 1923.

Menzies had resigned from the Lyons ministry on March 14, citing a failure to implement National Insurance Act provisions for pensions and other welfare benefits.

On April 19, the House of Representatives met to express condolences for Lyons. On April 20, the House met again. At the end of proceedings, Page rose to move the adjournment motion. He then made a speech excoriating Menzies, who had just been elected leader of the United Australia Party. Page questioned his judgment and loyalty and his lack of war service.

Page said he had offered to resign his seat in favour of the former prime minister, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who was then serving as High Commissioner in London. Page had served as Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Nationalist-Country Party coalition government from 1923 until 1929. He now suggested Bruce could return to head up a national government in what appeared to be the certainty of impending war. Bruce, who wanted the freedom to choose ministers from both sides of the house, appears to have declined the offer. [Read more…]