auDA, You Promised Members Better Communication!

My articles are always written without fear or favour. In saying that, I’ve always been a positive person by disposition, and would much prefer to look for the good in a situation.

So let me say first up that it gives me no pleasure to “bash” auDA. But in the interests of auDA Members, I have to again today.

Why? Quite simply, the Board and/or CEO have not honoured some of their most important commitments and assurances to Members with regards communication and transparency. Let’s call it as it is – broken promises.

auDA Members Have Rights

Remember the most important factor when it comes to auDA – it is a membership based organisation. This is despite certain recent attempts by some to “spin it” otherwise.

.au DOMAIN ADMINISTRATION LTD  –  ACN 079 009 340  –  A COMPANY LIMITED BY GUARANTEE (auDA)

So whilst this is a company that falls under the majority of regulations of the Corporations Act 2001, the one huge difference to a normal company is that there are no shareholders. There are Members – Supply Class and Demand Class. These Members elect 4 directors each to the Board; then the Board elects 3 independent directors. Total of 11. Refer to Section 9 of the Constitution (yes, this is one document that still exists on the auDA website!). So are we the tail wagging the dog; or the dog wagging the tail?

Members have rights under the Constitution and the Corporations Act.

Why I’m Speaking Up

One of the biggest bugbears that Members had last year was lack of communication and transparency. One prime example was that Board Minutes and Agendas were not published on time – we didn’t have a clue what was going on.

With the appointment of a new Chair (Stuart Benjamin) and new CEO (Cameron Boardman), I genuinely believed auDA Members had a bright future – in fact, this is part of what I wrote after the AGM in Sydney:

“The Chairman and CEO are a total breath of fresh air compared to what used to be. I believe that this augurs well for the future – particularly if they are genuine about wanting to consult and involve stakeholders along the way.”

Why was I so confident that communication and transparency were going to improve?

♦  Listen for yourself to the Chair (Stuart Benjamin), and the CEO (Cameron Boardman). This is a short audio recording from the AGM – “yours truly” asking the question.

 

In answer to my question, Stuart Benjamin said:

“So Cameron has actually given the Board that undertaking …”

And then Cameron started his answer with this:

“I never want to be in a situation in answering these questions with an apology, but I have to do that …”

And for those that want to hear the CEO’s preamble and introduction to the AGM, have a listen here (it’s 7 minutes long, but it does contain some important assurances to Members).

 

But alas, it has all changed for the worse since the AGM. The auDA website has been stripped of all previous Minutes and Agendas – you can’t even access a copy of the latest Annual Report or Cameron Ralph Report.

Shame auDA, shame.

Come on Independent and Demand Class Directors – please insist that auDA becomes the transparent organisation that we were promised by the CEO and Chairman. It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Ned O’Meara – 2nd May 2017


Disclaimer

26 thoughts on “auDA, You Promised Members Better Communication!

  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 9:59 am
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    Some questions for AUDA:

    Whose idea was it to remove the minutes?

    Whose idea was the code of conduct which directly conflicts with AUDA’s constitution?

    Why is board branch stacking of membership still continuing?

    Is it the board holding AUDA back or the CEO?

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 2, 2017 at 3:01 pm
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      Some good questions there Paul, but I doubt if we’ll ever get an answer. Perhaps Erhan will tell you at DNT drinks next week? 😉

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  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 10:31 am
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    The board appointed the CEO. Do you seriously think he was going to push any other barrow?

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    • Avatar
      May 2, 2017 at 2:59 pm
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      David, I can’t really tell on this myself. I kind of suspect the CEO is ok whilst the board is pushing all these bad decisions, I could be wrong but that is just how it seems.

      The difference between the board and the CEO is the Canberra factor in my view, it has already been noted that the CEO has been travelling to Canberra because of concern from government on .au, I’d guess (and hope) that he has different priorities to the board.

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    • Avatar
      May 2, 2017 at 3:19 pm
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      The CEO and all “independents” directors have been appointed by the cabal in control. They all owe their positions to them.

      Which helps explain the recent unanimous board resolutions.

      That and having NFI what they are about to impose on Australia with the direct registration debacle.

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      • Avatar
        May 2, 2017 at 6:30 pm
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        Agree but the true master is the Australian Government, that seems even more apparent from last weeks events.

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  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 10:39 am
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    I do not support auDA’s removal of past and current minutes of auDA board meetings.  There had been a long standing process which allowed confidential items to me removed from the public version of board minutes.  Therefore why has auDA now decided to delete all the minutes? It smells of a lack of accountability and transparency.

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 2, 2017 at 2:58 pm
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      Exactly – two sets of Minutes have seemed to work well for many years.

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  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 10:44 am
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    I wonder if Ned will be frisked at this years AGM?

    It would seem they asked a lot of questions and then filed them, seems like same rubbish, just different names.

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 2, 2017 at 2:57 pm
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      @Brendan – very funny. 🙂

      But in all seriousness, the AGM should be recorded by auDA itself (audiovisual). And then posted on their website for all Members to see. Just like they did for the auIGF.

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    • Avatar
      May 2, 2017 at 1:14 pm
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      Josh, Someone tried that before when they noted the very close relationships between  Cameron Boardman , Stuart Benjamin and Erhan Karabardak…

      https://www.righttoknow.org.au/request/au_domain_administration_ltd_aud

      auDA refuses to be transparent and refuses to follow good governance. The Communications Department should take over both administration and wholesale registry. Problem solved.

      auDA and the auDA Board has now lost all credibility. It was stacked by politically linked friends just like some of the jobs and contracts have been to auDA staff.

      Under the new CEO and new/ old board things have gotten worse.  They need to all resign or they will be investigated and that could mean a worse situation for them… as it could for past people.

      Something stinks and now everyone is smelling it. Perfume won’t cover up the stench.

      It might be time for some legal ” discovery”… now that would be worth posting to all members.

      I have been told this is just the tip of the iceberg…. the auDA Foundation and why the previous CEO was so hastily terminated has not been discussed in detail as yet….

      auDA is spending a fortune on legal fees again apparently.. why.. for what matters.. should members be made aware of these?

      auDA Board Member Erhan Karabardak ( lawyer) complained of the huge auDA legal costs and asked why previously. Has the tender for auDA legal services been put on the auDA website and made open and public.. No of course it has not! In the past it was many $millions spent a year!

      All aboard the auDA gravy train…. next stop wholesale registry builder contract and staff to run it….then next stop additional money making .au extension…happy times ahead again if you are on the auDA gravy train.

      Nothing has changed.. it has gotten worse.

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm
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      If they won’t put them back on the website for the benefit of all Members, then there is no other option but FOI.

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  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 1:20 pm
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    Ned, we owe you gratitude for “trying to keep the bastards honest”. I for one thank you for your efforts.

    Jeff

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  • Avatar
    May 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm
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    I’m glad AusRegistry have been given the boot but also don’t want the government to take over our beloved Domain Name industry on their own. I think this would send policy rules backwards. This direct .au registration mess is a whole different conversation. Lately I’m trying to find positives in auDA moving forward and now becoming it’s own Registry. However, now that “The auDA website has been stripped of all previous Minutes and Agendas” has been raised, I too would like to know why these have been removed?

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  • Scott.L
    May 2, 2017 at 2:27 pm
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    I want to be part of a virtual country that has pride in its brand.
    I want supply and demand working better together towards one goal.
    I want our ccTLD to be the envy of the world.
    I want to be proud to be associated with auDA.
    I want auDA to be great.
     
    Can you find a grain of greatness in yourselves to make my dream come true?
    Please……

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  • Ned O'Meara
    May 2, 2017 at 8:51 pm
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    Good to see that my post to LinkedIn of this article was viewed by auDA! And ICANN.

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  • Avatar
    May 3, 2017 at 4:37 am
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    For what it’s worth, below is a recent email exchange with auDA:

    Begin message:

    From: “auDA ZenDesk (auDA)” <support@auda.zendesk.com>
    Date: 18 April 2017 at 10:07:16 am AEST
    To: Ian <ian@johnston.id.au>
    Subject: [auDA] Re: Access to auDA Board Minutes
    Reply-To: auDA <support+id922@auda.zendesk.com>

    ##- Please type your reply above this line -##
    Your request (922) has been solved. To reopen this request, reply to this email.

    auDA ZenDe

    auDA ZenDesk (auDA)
    Apr 18, 10:07 AM AEST

    Hello Ian,
    Whilst auDA previously published board meeting minutes on our website, it was agreed in the February 2017 board meeting that this was no longer going to occur.
    auDA advised our members by way of the member newsletter under ‘On-going governance reform’ which stated:
    “As part of auDA’s ongoing commitment to reforming and improving its governance, the auDA Board unanimously resolved to improve its accountability processes by adhering to best practice principles.
    As a result, the previous recommendations, as articulated in the Westlake Report in 2012, will no longer apply.
    The recommendations and ongoing improvements as identified in the report conducted by Cameron Ralph in 2016 are to be considered as the standard. This will mean that Board minutes will no longer be published publicly and the primary method of communicating with members and stakeholders around strategy and important decisions will be through the Members’ Newsletter and in future, the members’ online portal.”
    Regards,
    Mark
    Mark Bouck
    Policy Compliance Officer
    .au Domain Administration Ltd
    T: 1300 732 929 | F: 03 8341 4112
    E: mark.bouck@auda.org.au| W: http://www.auda.org.au
    Twitter: @auda | Blog: http://www.auda.org.au/blog
    auDA – Australia’s Domain Name Administrator

     

    Ian

    Ian
    Apr 15, 5:55 AM AEST

    I’ve been unable to access the auDA Board Minutes, which are no longer accessible at <https://www.auda.org.au/about-auda/our-org/board-meetings/>.
    For example, the “here” link at <https://www.auda.org.au/news/statement-from-the-auda-board/> resolves to <https://www.auda.org.au/about-auda/our-org/board/> instead of <https://www.auda.org.au/about-auda/our-org/board-meetings/>
    Please advise me of a link to auDA Board Meeting Agenda and Minutes.

    ]
    This email is a service from auDA. Delivered by Zendesk.J5YKY5-7KYV]

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 3, 2017 at 6:45 am
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      Thanks for this Ian.

      This particular snip concerns me more than anything (bolding is mine):

      “As part of auDA’s ongoing commitment to reforming and improving its governance, the auDA Board unanimously resolved to improve its accountability processes by adhering to best practice principles.

      I can’t believe that every single Director agreed not to publish Minutes / Agendas etc?

      I have contacted a number of past Directors of auDA about this topic (not just the ones who have publicly commented on Domainer), and they were aghast at this total lack of transparency.

      Shame, shame, shame.

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      • Avatar
        May 3, 2017 at 3:56 pm
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        Hello Ned and others

        It’s not just about transparency, which is important of course. But it’s also about accountability of auDA and its Board to its stakeholders – international and national. Australian stakeholders include: members of auDA and non-members including end-users/registrants/holders of domain name licences, registrars, ACCC, ACMA, Minister for Communications, the Federal Government and its Cabinet and, ultimately, the Federal Parliament (House of Representative Members and Senators).

        If there’s one thing fifty plus years of involvement and interest in public policy taught me, it is that accountability and transparency are fundamentally important for good governance; and, essential pre-conditions for stakeholder trust and confidence in public institutions. Failure to consistently meet high standards of governance, accountability and transparency to stakeholders, invites government intervention.

        I have seen many examples of ministerial and government intervention to ensure high standards of governance, transparency and accountability to stakeholders. The iron fist of government in a velvet glove remarkably is effective, as is moral suasion. Moral suasion appears to have  been relatively ineffective when it comes to auDA.

        In my view the time has come for auDA – or another entity performing like  functions – to be subject to a legislative framework that provides for more effective governance and greater accountability and transparency.

        Ian Johnston

        Observer of auDA (2000-2017). Member of auDA’s Names Policy and Competition Model Advisory Panels (2000-2001).

        Advocate for and consultant to national small business consumer and industry associations on telecommunications and ecommerce (1998-2006).

        Policy advisor in Federal Departments and their Ministers, mainly Communications, Treasury, Finance and Defence (1962 to 1996).

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        • Ned O'Meara
          May 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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          Thank you for your excellent contribution Ian.

          I loved this snip:

          “Moral suasion appears to have been relatively ineffective when it comes to auDA.”

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  • Avatar
    May 3, 2017 at 9:24 am
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    “As part of auDA’s ongoing commitment to reforming and improving its governance, the auDA Board unanimously resolved to improve its accountability processes by adhering to best practice principles.

     

    “I can’t believe that every single Director agreed not to publish Minutes / Agendas etc?”

    ////////////////////////

    I guess the question is what exactly was the vote wording? Voting to “improve its accountability processes by adhering to best practice principles” sounds wishy washy, what did directors actually agree to?

    I believe demand side elected representative Tim has been ordered by AUDA supply side puppet masters not to speak on anything genuine (just like happened with previous directors?) so we may not get a decent answer on this.

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  • Avatar
    May 3, 2017 at 9:34 am
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    AUDA Board Meeting Transcript,

    Tim here is a list of things you may speak about,

    1. Plugins

    2. Web development

    3. Rogue One the Movie

     

    Here is a list of things you may not speak about,

    1. AUDA

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