63 Sir George Pearce, Minister for External Affairs, to Mr H. Fitzmaurice, U.K. Consul-General in Batavia

Letter 17 September 1937,

I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your despatch of 31st August [1], relative to the Timor oil concession held by Mr A. J.

Staughton [2] For your information I am enclosing copies of the letter sent to Mr Pascoe [3], who has an option over the concession, vide my advice of 18th August [4], and of his reply dated 11th September, 1937. [5]

It appears that Mr Staughton has received no information about the revocation of his concession, and the fact that the Timor authorities have been accepting rentals for the lease without question right up to the present date, leads one to the conclusion that no revocation has yet been made.

At the same time it is clear that the necessary field work laid down in the conditions for the concession is not being carried out, which makes the concession liable to cancellation at any moment.

Moreover, it seems that while Mr Pascoe holds an option over the leases, Mr Staughton and his company do not contemplate engaging in active field operations. On the other hand, it appears that Mr Pascoe is not prepared to spend money on the present concession unless he can obtain additional areas, and in this respect, is waiting on advice from the Timor authorities to his letter of 15th June, and as to the result of the representations made by the Commonwealth Government through the Embassy at Lisbon. [6]

Thus the position is not very satisfactory, and I am not sure that you can do anything at the moment to further this particular Australian interest, except to write personally to Major Fontoura on the possibility of acquiring additional areas.

1 Document 61.

2 See Document 49, note 1.

3 Not printed.

4 Document 59.

5 Not printed.

6 See Document 18.

[AA : A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, ii] G. F. PEARCE