361 Full Cabinet Submission by

Sir Frederick Stewart, Minister for External Affairs

Agendum 615 25 March 1941


On the recommendation put forward in Agendum No. 561 of 25th January last [1], Cabinet gave its approval for an approach to the Portuguese Government with a view to obtaining Portuguese assent to the appointment at Dilli, Portuguese Timor, of an official representative of the Commonwealth Government.

2. The approach was made accordingly through the United Kingdom Government and the British Ambassador at Lisbon. [2] The reply, received on 19th March, is to the effect that while willing to receive an Australian representative, the Portuguese Government would prefer that the official appointed should pass for a technical expert connected with the air service, in order not to arouse the suspicions of the Japanese.

3. At the same time the reply intimated that the Japanese were now proposing to open a Consulate at Dilli themselves. It is thought likely that the Portuguese Government will have to agree to this.

The reply suggested that this new development might affect the decision of the Commonwealth Government, i.e., if the Japanese opened a Consulate at Dilli the Commonwealth Government might also wish to do so.

4. There are, however, practical objections at the present time to the initiation of an Australian Consular Service. In the case of Portuguese Timor it has from the beginning been the opinion of the Departments concerned that any British consular appointment should be made from the United Kingdom Service. If the Japanese opened a consulate at Dilli therefore it would be preferable for the right of reciprocity to be exercised by the United Kingdom so far as consular representation is concerned. This would have the advantage from an Australian point of view that it would enable the presence at Dilli of both a British Consul and an Australian representative.

5. It is therefore recommended that Cabinet approve of the appointment forthwith of an Australian representative at Dilli with nominal technical functions in connection with the Darwin- Dilli air service. This official would be without the proposed status of Official Representative but would still in fact be in a position to carry out useful intelligence and political duties, irrespective of any subsequent decision there may be for British consular representation. A suitable officer for both the technical and other duties of the post is available in Mr. David Ross, Chief Inspector, Flying Branch, Department of Civil Aviation. The following communication to the Secretary of State for the Dominions is accordingly submitted for approval:-

'Your telegrams 117 [3] and 171. [4]

Grateful if you would arrange for Ambassador Lisbon to inform Portuguese Government that the Commonwealth Government proposes to appoint to Dilli an official of the Department of Civil Aviation to carry out technical dudes connected with present Qantas Empire Airways Service Darwin-Batavia via Dilli, and later direct Darwin- Dilli service. Official proposed is Mr. David Ross, Chief Inspector, Flying Branch, Department Civil Aviation. Commonwealth Government would appreciate if Governor Timor could be instructed accordingly.

Commonwealth Government agrees that the Ambassador should also be instructed to express the view that if at some later stage Portuguese Government consents to the establishment of a Japanese Consulate at Dilli, the Portuguese Government should also accord the right of British Consular representation at Dilli if it is desired to exercise it. At the same time the Commonwealth Government hopes the Portuguese Government will not find it necessary to agree to the establishment of a Japanese Consulate.

FADDEN.' [5]

1 Document 257.

2 Sir Ronald Campbell.

3 This appears to be an incorrect reference to cablegram 170 of 18 March. See file AA:A981, Australia 248.

4 Dispatched 18 March. On file cited in note 3.

5 This Agendum was approved by Full Cabinet on 31 March and the cablegram dispatched with minor textual alterations as no. 204 on 1 April. See file cited in note 3.

[AA:A2697, VOL. 6]