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auDA Members Revolt Against Management as Chair Faces Ousting

On Monday 31 July, auDA members get to have their say on the current Chair, and whether they have had enough of the ongoing destruction of the organisation’s transparency and accountability and defying of the constitution. There are significant numbers voting to oust the Chair, Stuart Benjamin. Even registrars have had a gutful of the ongoing management debacle insisting they want no part of discussions on the management plans until the vote has taken place. This follows overtures from auDA for registrars to participate in a meeting, purportedly to discuss the organisation’s future. But registrars saw through this charade and told auDA bluntly they want no part of any discussions until after the vote has taken place.

The organisation has also either been wilfully defying the Corporations Act 2001 or has been getting poor legal advice. Either way, repeated attempts to shut down and manipulate the vote has failed. auDA did succeed though in having 3 of the 4 resolutions put forward by members thrown out. But in doing so they galvanised many members into supporting the fourth – to oust chair Stuart Benjamin.

The 3 resolutions blocked were relating to putting historical minutes, agendas and annual reports back online, a review and vote on by members of a Code of Conduct that was imposted without consultation and whether auDA was able to operate a wholesale registry.

AuDA members are currently lodging proxies for those unable to attend the meeting Monday with indications that many long term players in the Australian domain name industry, registrars, interested players and domain investors have all had enough. It’s even rumoured a director or 2 are having second thoughts as to Benjamin’s abilities to carry on as Chair.

As my fellow writer on .au domain name issues, Ned O’Meara, has also written in several articles, the clusterf&^k enveloping .au need not have happened had auDA’s management and board not wilfully defied members, thinking they would be patsies for their whims. Any organisation that takes down key historical documents and is only forced to re-release them after a Freedom of Information request, that imposes a Code of Conduct on members without consultation and explaining why such a Code is needed, and that goes against previous industry consultations and says it wants to “build and operate” its own registry certainly has no interest in its members.

So what will be the future if Benjamin goes? One would think after investing so much effort into the changes, the current CEO’s position would be untenable. He’s supported changes, pushed by he and at least some of the board, that members find abhorrent. But, the chutzpah of politicians and former politicians of the right, the latter of which CEO Cameron Boardman is one, would mean he’s likely to stick it out and hope for the best.

These indeed are factitious times for the .au policy and regulatory body. 12 of 14 staffers have resigned in about 18 months including one who came and went that was a prized recruit to deal with security. However she is thought to have found her position untenable due to management treatment.

For auDA members that want to vote on the remaining resolution, or those just simply want to know more, there is more information available at grumpy.com.au.

* Disclaimer: the writer was an auDA Board member (2005 to 2007), served on 3 auDA Names Policy Panels (2007, 2010 and 2015), was a supplier to auDA for 14 years and is now a supplier to AusRegistry proving online media monitoring services and contributing to the Behind the Dot magazine.