The government was accused of bullying East Timor and demanding too great a share of contested oil and gas yesterday in a series of television commercials featuring second world war veterans who fought in the tiny territory. The advertisements were paid for by Melbourne businessman Ian Melrose, who is outraged at what he says is Australia's shabby treatment of its former wartime ally. The advertisements are being shown in the run-up to Anzac Day on April 25, when Australia commemorates its war dead. They also coincide with a new round of talks between Canberra and Dili on the oil and gas issue. At the heart of the controversy are enormous oil and gas reserves worth at least A$40 billion ($240 billion) in the Timor Sea. The East Timorese, invoking the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, argue that the reserves should be divided up according to a maritime boundary which should be drawn midway between the two nations. But Australia claims a boundary based on its continental shelf, which reaches far into East Timor's 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone. Australia has withdrawn recognition of the International Court of Justice to avoid facing a ruling on the disputed boundary. The advertisements feature four Australian veterans who fought in East Timor against the occupying Japanese. They claim Canberra's treatment of East Timor is not in keeping with 'the Anzac spirit' of fairness and comradeship. Paddy Kenneally, 89, who served in East Timor in 1942, said that without help from local people his unit would not have lasted more than a few weeks. 'They fed us, they sheltered us, they guided us, they carried the wounded,' he said. 'We're always boasting about a fair go, [but] now we're depriving one of the poorest countries in the world of the only resource they have.'