auDA Members Have Been Heard

Yesterday, Stuart Benjamin resigned as an Independent Director and Chair of auDA.

The momentum for a protest vote from members was well and truly in evidence – particularly after auDA had summarily invalidated 3 out of 4 members resolutions. The only option available for members to express their outrage at the lack of communication, transparency and proper process was to send a message via voting to remove him as a Director.

And those proxies came in like a king tide! For a summary of how the last couple of days unfolded, have a read of the updates section on Grumpy.com.au.

In my opinion, Stuart should have realised the inevitable, and resigned earlier to avoid the cost (to members) of a Special General Meeting. But it is what it is. The meeting is still going ahead, and this will give members an opportunity to quiz the CEO and Board during “other business” (Item 3 of the meeting agenda).

Thank You

Thank you to every single member that gave us their support in this cause. And I’m talking both Supply and Demand Class! It shows that auDA is indeed a membership organisation, and that should never be forgotten by those in power. All we ever wanted was transparency, communication, and proper processes.  The Board and management at auDA forced us to take this action by not observing these basic principles.

A special thank you to the team behind this campaign – all are auDA members who cared enough to get involved and put their time and effort in to make this a reality. Ian, Scott, Josh, Craig, David – you have my extreme gratitude. As does my son Luke (also an auDA member) – he was responsible for the Grumpy.com.au site and the MailChimp email campaign to members. And there are others that don’t seek the limelight who also need to be thanked. You know who you are!

To Stuart Benjamin

Thank you sincerely for all your service to auDA.

Whilst I realise that you have taken this campaign to remove you as an Independent Director and Chair as a personal attack, the fact is it was never “personal”. Your resignation announcement yesterday contains quite a few barbs and inaccuracies, but today is not the day to deal with those.

As members, we were simply dismayed at some of the things happening under your watch. Many members believe that it is the CEO who should be held responsible for some of the strange things that have occurred over the past year. However, we couldn’t interfere in management of auDA – only the Board could do that.

So as Chair, the buck did have to stop with you. That’s corporate responsibility.

I genuinely wish you well Stuart. At least now you will have more time to devote to your businesses and family – so maybe we have inadvertently done you a favour.

Ned O’Meara – 29th July 2017


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15 thoughts on “auDA Members Have Been Heard

  • Avatar
    July 29, 2017 at 1:09 pm
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    Good news. He should have never been given that jobs, the money and the fringe benefits of overseas travel.

    The auDA Board and auDA CEO are not off the hook. THEY also have responsibility for the last 1.5 years of mess.

    I call on everyone to demand a full auDA Board spill, new auDA Board and new auDA CEO.

    The only reason Benjamin resigned was he knew he was going to be sacked Monday.

    auDA and Board have wasted over $200,000 on this.

    The other 3 resolutions deserve to be voted on by members also.

    Benjamins statement is a further embarressment to himself, the CEO and the auDA Board.

    I feel an audit is also called for…we are now seeing facts about lavish trips at auDA expense by some of the auDA Board and staff…yet we had been promised this would all stop when they took over

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    • Avatar
      July 31, 2017 at 10:32 am
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      Sean wrote:
      “I call on everyone to demand a full auDA Board spill, new auDA Board and new auDA CEO.”
      A full auDA Board spill would be a radical step, particularly at a time when it is required to make decisions that will impact the governance, stability and security of critical national infrastructure.
      This infrastructure underpins and plays a pivotal role in the Australian economy, its financial system and payments systems, its industry and commerce and national security.
      I suggest what is needed is stability and continuity of a core of Board members, the resignation of any Board member who has a conflict of interest and the appointment of a Chairperson acceptable to demand and supply class members and the Federal Government (because of national interest considerations) – one who is willing and does engage with the membership.
      I also suggest that this engagement is about the development, implementation and review of transparency, accountability and governance measures relevant to auDA’s national interest role. Long established Federal Government measures have been set in legislation, reviewed and updated since the early 1990s. I suggest they are a good model against which the auDA Board may be judged by all stakeholders.

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  • Avatar
    July 29, 2017 at 3:12 pm
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    It shows that auDA is indeed a membership organisation, and that should never be forgotten by those in power. All we ever wanted was transparency, communication, and proper processes.  The Board and management at auDA forced us to take this action by not observing these basic principles.

    Well said.

    Let’s hope this train gets back on the rails properly now.

    Otherwise, there’s more work to do.

     

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  • Avatar
    July 29, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    Interesting read at TheRegister.co.uk: Peculiar goings-on at auDA – we look under the covers and follow the money

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  • Avatar
    July 29, 2017 at 11:06 pm
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    After re reading ex auDA Chair Stuart Benjamin’s announcement he clearly does not see members and stakeholders do NOT want a new auDA Chair who replaces him to continue the course he led auDA on. Wake up man!

    There is NO business case for another .au extension as was told to me in December 2016 by the auDA CEO Cameron Boardman and this was after he met Deloitte who had told him the day before the same thing. They also told me this when I met with them to participate in their consulting role.

    Sorry Benjamin, we do not want another to replace you with the same mistakes and misinformed plans. You did not have the experience for the job , you lacked international domain name supply and / or demand experience and you stuffed up a lot of things at auDA and for .au investment. You have cost not only a lot of money but many .au businesses both Supply and Demand and domain name owners themselves.

    auDA and auDA Board is on notice to start listening. Change your thinking and listen to members and stakeholders. Improve your accountability and transparency or you will face the members again.

    Look at the facts about .uk and .nz failed direct registrations as pushed by those who want to profit only from it. Cut the Bullshi$. The facts are  now clear there is NO demand for another .au extension except what some at auDA and supply have pushed so they can make more money.

    https://www.auda.org.au/mailouts/auDA+Plain+Announce/Statement+from+auDA+Chair+Stuart+Benjamin+

    “Statement from auDA Chair Stuart Benjamin

    28 July 2017

    Today I have taken a very difficult decision to stand aside from my role as Independent Chair of auDA three months before the expiry of my term as an Independent Director.

    I have reached the view that there is no possible positive outcome for the organisation from the vote planned for Monday.

    I believe a new Chair would be better placed to continue the change program I have been leading.

    auDA is an organisation that did not change for a long time, and it has been through a period of accelerated change in recent months. The Board will continue with the Registry Transformation Project and the implementation of direct registration for .au. In the coming weeks, there will be a number of announcements about our successes in these areas.

    Driving transition is hard for the Board, it can sometimes be hard for staff and it’s clearly created concerns for some members.

    The Board and myself do not resile from the decisions or directions we have taken and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.

    In the past nine months I have led the Board’s implementation of a new governance regime reflecting the recommendations of the Cameron Ralph review, and a business restructure to better meet the strategic objectives of the organisation.

    As Chair I have overseen an increase in policy generation, in effective oversight, and in good governance.

    We have also commissioned some of the largest member consultation projects in auDA’s history.

    However, the auDA Board and members need to forge a different way of working together and I think there is a better chance for that to happen if I step away.

    Everyone at auDA is open to robust criticism on strategy, policy and decision-making – that interaction makes us stronger. When that healthy engagement devolves into personal attacks on board members, the capacity of the organisation to attract and retain good people is affected.

    I will continue to take a stand against cyber bullying and will not be deterred in standing up to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to personally attack staff and directors. I do not want my experiences to discourage others from running for election, or accepting an appointment, to this important organisation.

    My 5 years of involvement with auDA have been immensely rewarding and I leave confident that the organisation is well positioned for the future.”

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    • Avatar
      July 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm
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      Is that legit? I have been told by a director that the meeting is definitely not going to be find all part of a webinar.

      Has auDA made an announcement?

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  • Avatar
    July 30, 2017 at 1:51 pm
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    Has he actually resigned as director or not?

    Stuart’s resignation said he has resigned as chair. His resignation does not say he resigns as director.  Perhaps that is poor drafting – but what if it is deliberate drafting?

    Unless he has also resigned as a director the resolution to be voted on (removal as director) needs to proceed.

    When the chair is vacant the other directors can appoint a chair from the directors. So they can just appoint him again after the SGM unless he is removed or resigns as director.

     

     

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    • Ned O'Meara
      July 30, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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      He has resigned as a Director. Erhan Karabardak confirmed this with me on Friday evening.

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  • Avatar
    July 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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    I agree with Sean’s point that Stuart’s parting words prove that he still doesnt “get it”.

    There was no humility and no acceptance of blame.

    Instead, he has tried to grab the moral high ground and paint this whole saga as a personal vendetta that targeted him. He still 100% believes that he and the Board and the CEO did the right thing.

    This is the issue that needs to be aired at the SGM tomorrow.

    auDA came out with a constant stream of unanimous decisions and announcements. Now is the time to find out whether the Board was truly in lockstep with Stuart. If that was and is the case, his departure will change nothing (and perversely strengthen their collective resolve) and give us a clue as to the next steps members need to take.

    I hope everyone enjoyed the celebration – now the next phase begins.

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  • Avatar
    July 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm
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    Your sentiment is exactly the same impression I got from Benjamin’s statement; he clearly doesn’t get, or want to acknowledge, the terrible decisions auDA has been making. Many of which are contrary to the advice found in multiple expert industry reports. For example, all previous panels agreed against launching the .au direct extension. But auDA has decided to proceed anyway, based on their biased process that was riddled with conflicts of interest and flawed surveys. Still to this day, the conflicts of interest that have been steering auDA’s decisions, have not been disclosed. Discusting.

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  • Avatar
    July 31, 2017 at 1:38 am
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    Stuart’s Linkedin profile needs an update to remove the auDA Chair and auDA Director roles.

    To improve transparency, accountability and meet industry best practice I am hopeful auDA will now start to publish on the auDA website full trip reports and expenses from auDA Staff and auDA Director trips to clearly show the requirement and benefit for members and the organisation’s Australian Domain Name Administration role.

    The new hints people see of lavish auDA travel are the occasional selfies posted on twitter or facebook of travels to far away places, glasses of champagne in business class flights etc.

    Has the auDA Chair, staff or Directors been flying Business class domestic or overseas? Why?

    Are all the trips and expenses required? Prove it or it looks no different to the predecessors you had complained about before you took over.

    Surely the goal of auDA is to promote .au Domain Names and the internet. I cannot see any real need for people to be flying overseas at auDA expense to many of these meetings. Perhaps jump on the webinars or skype most meetings should also offer? This is what many businesses and even government departments now require.

    Some people need to understand auDA is a “not for profit” not a Government Department. The money being spent is not that of the auDA CEO or any Director.

    As Deloitte Consulting told me.. If auDA has so much money they are still wasting it or have so much in the bank ( over $12 million)  then they need to reduce wholesale domain name prices and start to give back to domain name registrants some form of cost reduction benefit…. As a “not for profit” something is not right…

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  • Avatar
    July 31, 2017 at 9:17 pm
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    In case anyone missed Kieren McCarthy’s awesome write-up and also some very good commentary on TheRegister.co.uk’s article, here’s the link:

    Australia’s .au internet registry chair quits amid no-confidence vote

    Some of my fav comments:

    Yes Me: “…intrigue and mismanagement: It’s because of the fact that there’s money to be made and that, I’m afraid, attracts people with a weak grasp of ethics. Only a very strong non-profit constituition for the registry that caps salaries and bans profits can prevent this; and as this case shows, transparency is everything (and is therefore hated by those of weak ethics).”

    David Roberts: “Strange tale: It starts with a new chairman getting stuck into the snouts in the trough and then morphs into the organisation being stealthed. What brought about the change in direction? Unkind to consider that it might have been the realisation of just how much money was under the table and up for grabs. “We’ve sorted out all the bad practices of the last lot. All new and shiny now! Proof? We’d love to but corporate best practice. Nothing to see here, just move along please.”

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