135 Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister, to Mr O. Scott, U.K. Charge d'Affaires in Portugal

Letter CANBERRA, 18 August 1939 CONFIDENTIAL

In acknowledging your letter of the 28th July [1] I desire to express my keen appreciation of the efforts made by His Majesty's Missions in Portugal in connection with the application of Oil Search Ltd for oil concessions in Portuguese Timor.

Your letter certainly throws considerable light on the reasons for the long delay in the finalisation of this matter, but the obstacles encountered cause me some loss of confidence in the value of various published reports about the efficiency and expedition of the new regime. Australian business interests had had experience in the past of the dilatory methods obtaining in Portuguese Timor itself, and it was this which prompted the advice given to Mr Dodson [2] that it would probably be advisable for him to proceed personally to Lisbon. It is unfortunate that the Company has been put to the expense of having to maintain him there for over a year.

I feel that the Ambassador [3] and yourself are fully conversant with the political and strategical considerations which are actuating the Commonwealth Government in pressing for concessions on behalf of an Australian Group, and I leave it to your discretion to advance strongly these considerations with the responsible Portuguese authorities at every suitable opportunity.

In this connection, our efforts to establish an air link with Timor which will mainly benefit Portuguese interests might be used to reinforce your representations.

R.G. MENZIES

1 Document 131.

2 A.R. Dodson, representative of Oil Search Limited.

3 Sir Walford Selby.

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