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auDA Director Slams Board and Members on the Way Out

auDA logoIn what seems a bit of a revolving door these days, both at Board and staff level, another Director resigned their position at auDA, the .au policy regulator, on 14 August, making it 2 in one day. In 2017 alone and outside the normal election of Directors, 5 Directors have “resigned” their positions.

The latest to resign from the Board of auDA, the .au policy regulator, was Leonie Walsh who advised the board [pdf] of her resignation on 14 August according to minutes 177 words long that took 2 months to be published. The Board meeting, which went for 6.5 hours and was in-camera, has been the subject of whispers as to what went on. But all we know for sure was that Walsh and Michaella Richards both resigned. Others to resign in 2017 were Kartic Srinivasan and Tony Staley on 31 January and then Chair Stuart Benjamin on 31 July.

In advising the Board of her resignation Walsh said:
“I no longer have confidence in the Board process and believe it is leading auDA away from the original reform agenda that I believe is necessary for the sustainability and security of auDA in the future.

“I am also concerned with behaviours of a small minority of the membership. There is nothing acceptable about the practise of targeting Board members and staff personally to raise attention on issues or outcomes of the Board.”

In the minutes [pdf] the Board also noted “the potentially defamatory website publications concerning Dr Michaella Richards in connection with her appointment as a director of auDA. These publications also negatively comment on the Company’s governance processes.”

These “potentially defamatory website publications” include Domain Pulse and Domainer, both of whom have been calling for improvements in accountability and transparency at auDA, including the reinstatement of Board minutes that were deleted, along with consultative recommendations from previous Panels, in particular Industry Advisory Panels. While there have been some improvements with historical information reinstated, the paucity of information in Board meeting minutes is problematic.

Walsh’s complaints about the “small minority of the membership” are troubling. auDA seems to forget that they, as a membership-based organisation, are accountable to their members. And a sizeable majority of members, who would have voted to oust then Chair Stuart Benjamin had he not resigned before a Special General Meeting, are angry about the direction of the organisation. While it is debatable as to whether the concerns are valid or not, auDA as an organisation has been woeful in communication with its members along with transparency and accountability.

As auDA refused to listen to the concerns of members, members found the only way to have their voice heard was to exercise their rights under the Corporations Act. And while they may be coming from different angles and have differing issues, Walsh and many members agree on one thing. auDA is not working. From the members’ point of view, their only remedy to being repeatedly ignored was under the Corporations Act and Constitution – to remove Board members.