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auDA’s Last Elected Demand Class Director Fed Up and Resigns

The last director with any real connection to domain name registrants at the .au policy and regulatory body, auDA, has finally succumbed to pressure and resigned today. The resignation of Tim Connell means the current management has now cleared out all dissenting independence in its policy making bodies. Given that auDA is so fond of quoting its Constitution, one wonders if they now actually have a quorum?* Connell was the sole remaining elected Demand Class Director.

In his stinging resignation letter [pdf] Connell writes how in recent times he has “been disappointed by many auDA Board decisions” which “could be a major influence on auDA’s independence after the next AGM.” Connell was also concerned that auDA’s constitution was “being read in differently on different days to achieve the government review reforms and for whatever outcome the auDA Board desires.”

The recent miraculous approval of 955 mostly foreign-based members, many of whom have used the same postal address, was of particular concern to Connell, who was largely voted in with the support of the domain name investor community but was now the only “Demand” director to have been voted in. Connell is concerned these new members, of which the vast majority if not all have links to either the registry or a few large registrars, “was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for” Connell. Connell notes he was the only director to dissent on this decision.

Connell also notes how his membership as a demand class member was questioned under section 9.4 of the constitution. It appears auDA was seeking to undermine Connell and say he should be a Supply class member, that is someone from the registry operator, a registrar or reseller. Connell notes the hypocrisy as 955 new members, the vast majority if not all of whom work for the registry or registrars, were approved using the same definition.

Connell listed 7 concerns. The first was that auDA breached the Corporations Act in how it tallied votes at the recent SGM. Had auDA followed the Corporations Act, the resolutions voted on would have seen 3 so-called independent directors, including the Chair, voted out.

Connell also notes he doesn’t trust the information he received “as a director is accurate or complete meaning he can’t discharge his directorial duties in good faith, that auDA can now use its financial position to shut down dissent through legal action, that the registry and registrars could now effectively control auDA, that auDA could be accused of influencing registrar votes through a new promotional fund, concerns over any future registry tenders and the voting power from the Supply side could effectively mean issues are uncontested because of the control these few people have over auDA.

Connell believes that domain name registrants in Australia’s country code top level domain (ccTLD) are now “too scared to speak out” and that they are not informed as to changes. “The Government should now consider ‘who now actually controls auDA.”

In a statement announcing Connell’s resignation, auDA thanks him for his services over the last 2 years and noted Connell “said he did not support the Board’s majority position of admitting new members in line with the auDA Constitution and the requirements of the federal government review.” However Connell never said he didn’t support “the requirements of the federal government review”. He didn’t though support auDA’s interpretation of the requirements.

auDA will now go about their usual ways and means of selecting someone, undoubtedly compliant, to fill Connell’s position within 3 months, or longer if the Board resolves.

* 24.1 Procedure Generally
The Directors may meet together for the dispatch of business adjourn and otherwise regulate their meetings and proceedings as they think fit. Until otherwise determined six (6) Directors constitute a quorum, provided at least one Director elected by each of the Membership Classes is present. The quorum must be present at all times during the meeting.