12 Mr W.M. Hughes, Minister for External Affairs, to Lt Col W.R. Hodgson, Secretary of Department of External Affairs

Letter SYDNEY, 26 January 1939

CONFIDENTIAL

Mr W.A. Freeman [1] and Mr Griffin [2] called to see me with reference to Mr Dodson's mission to Lisbon. [3] They gave me a copy of a letter which they had received from Mr Dodson, which I enclose. [4]

In view of the disturbed state of world affairs and the clamorous demand by certain nations for colonies, the efforts of the group represented by Buchman [sic] [5] and Wittouck [6] are not without significance. You will recall Mr Consul-General Fitzmaurice's letter dealing with their activities. [7] Apparently Buchman [sic] is now in Australia. You will note in the ante-

penultimate paragraph an item of news which, if it is true, is more than a little disturbing. [8] When we add that it is quite on the cards that Portugal might-now that Franco [9] seems likely to win the war-sell Timor to Germany [10]

In all the circumstances, I regard it imperative that we should have a point d'appui in Timor. This would give us some locus standi if such a monstrous project should actually take place. Freeman and Griffin think the time is now opportune and that owing to the long delays and the inactivity of the Portuguese Minister of Colonies [11], it would be advisable to send another telegram to the Foreign Office, seeking their good offices in inducing the Portuguese Government to grant a lease to Dodson. I agree.

As I see it, the matter is most important. If you agree, perhaps you might draft a suitable telegram which could be sent to London. [12]

W. M. HUGHES

1 Chairman of Directors of Oil Search Limited.

2 E.F. Griffin, Managing Director of Oil Search Limited.

3 A.R. Dodson, representative of Oil Search Limited in Lisbon.

4 Not printed (on file AA: A981, Timor (Portuguese) 22, iv). It described the difficulties involved in dealing with the authorities in Lisbon.

5 R.S. Buchan, representative of the Asia Investment Company.

6 Serge F. Wittouck, Managing Director of the Asia Investment Company.

7 This is probably a reference to dispatch 329 of 8 December 1938 from H. Fitzmaurice, U.K. Consul-General in Batavia, to Lord Halifax, U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a copy of which was sent to the Australian Government (on file AA: A1608, L52/1/1)

8 The paragraph (of the letter, cited in note 4) read: 'The Japanese are constructing an air base 1,5oo miles from Darwin. Timor assumes more importance every day and every day lost is gone for good, that's what worries me'.

9 General Francisco Franco, Spanish Chief of State and Generalissimo of National Armies.

10 Hughes appears to have left this sentence unfinished.

11 Dr F.J.V. Machado.

12 Document 15.

[AA: A981, TIMOR (PORTUGUESE) 22, iv]