Can We Trust The auDA Chair & CEO?

When it comes down to trust in auDA, the buck must stop with the Chairman Stuart Benjamin. He and his fellow Directors ultimately direct the CEO regarding policy decisions.

Here are some recent examples where trust has gone. You be the judge.

Statement Re Minutes

This is the spark that created a bushfire for auDA. A clear and unequivocal promise was made at the AGM in November by the Chair and CEO.


♦  Then they broke their word.


CEO Welcomes Members Putting Up Resolutions

This clip was from the inaugral auDA Members Meet Up on June 21, 2017


♦  Then they broke their promise – and declared 3 out of the 4 resolutions invalid.


CEO States Staff Turnover Is Normal


Good question by Luke Summers about staff turnover. The CEO says that the “chatter is disrespectful”; and that “it doesn’t make us that much different from any other organisation in very similar circumstances”.

Yeah right. 12 out of 14 original staff gone; plus 2 respected and long serving Independent Directors – as well as the recently appointed Rachael Falk.

My question to the Chair and CEO is simply this. How many of these people left voluntarily? Don’t tell “porkies” now, because it might come back to “bite you in the backside”. 😉


I think Sir Humphrey sums it up perfectly when he says “I know this is a difficult concept to get across to a politician”. 😉


Ned O’Meara – 18th July 2017


11 thoughts on “Can We Trust The auDA Chair & CEO?

  • July 18, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Old staff successfully ran auDA for 15 years but didn’t have the skillset required by new management?

    Sure, seems legit.

    11 people like this.
  • July 18, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Look, I’m sure it was all just a “Semantic Misalignment”

    8 people like this.
  • July 18, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Now seems as good a time as any to make an appearance here, even if it is a very difficult comment to write. And brace yourselves, it is gonna be a long one.

    In the comments section of an earlier post, Ned mentioned that ex-auDA staff may enjoy this post.

    Well, yes and no.

    Schadenfreude can only get you so far.

    As former staff, we are in a no-win situation. We no longer have any personal or financial investment in the industry. Our views can be readily dismissed given our bias. As such, we have become largely irrelevant.

    We have absolutely nothing to gain from undermining the current efforts of auDA, even though it pains us greatly to watch what is going on and to hear repeated rumours about disparaging comments made on behalf of auDA regarding previous management.

    Some of us have responded by completely isolating ourselves from the industry while others have sought some catharsis by commenting on fora such as Domainer. Neither response is particularly healthy. After all, we all have wounds to heal, jobs to seek, careers to re-establish, bills to pay, mortgages to service and mouths to feed.

    Those priorities aside, I hope auDA members have the time to take note of the number of former staff that have chosen to speak up over the last few months. Just goes to show….we really do / did care.

    Although I cannot share former corporate documents, I can paraphrase from a values statement that all staff wrote together and reviewed annually. Our primary focus was trust in ourselves, our colleagues and the organisation. We emphasised respect, flexibility and teamwork. We committed to being responsive and to treating all stakeholders fairly. We even codified having fun as an important part of a healthy and productive workplace.

    Going from that foundation to where we have ended up today is probably the most jarring thing for ex-staff. We felt we had a solid foundation and support from management and the Board. Although a familial environment is not always suitable for the workplace, at least having the sense that we “had each other’s backs” was vital in an organisation as small as auDA.

    Personally, the best comparison I can make between what is occurring at auDA today and previous experience is the Sol Trujillo experiment at Telstra. Sol and his hand-picked team torched Telstra staff, made enemies of stakeholders and government and ultimately left with a huge payout while investors saw their shares lose 30% in value. But in a way, I can understand the thinking there: Telstra was trying to emerge from its legacy as a monolithic government-owned entity and the Board became enamoured with the shiny baubles and bluster of an all-new leadership and management team.

    What I cannot understand is the motivation for such an approach at a not-for-profit industry self-regulator that has a very narrow technical remit and, in the view of most stakeholders, was performing well (if not perfectly).

    Unfortunately, I must end with one more personal observation. I deeply regret the informal counsel I offered to a number of staff members that sought it over the last 12 to 18 months. When the previous Chair was removed, I said that change was a good thing and that organisations need to move on and evolve. When the CEO was ousted (in similarly distasteful fashion) I continued to advocate for regeneration and reinvention. I still tried to say the same thing when the former Deputy CEO departed: “If we keep our heads down and do our best, we will be fine”.

    Sorry gang, I was wrong.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    29 people like this.
    • July 18, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      @Paul – what a brilliant post. Thanks for taking the time (and having the courage) to share your experiences with us.


      14 people like this.
    • July 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing Paul, your experience contains invaluable insight, and change is good when done properly.

      8 people like this.
    • July 18, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Paul, I echo what Ned says about you having the internal fortitude to speak up.


      8 people like this.
  • July 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    What I’ve found with AUDA is that they most strenuously deny the things that are most obviously true. So if they come out with a strongly worded/emotional sounding claim on something I assume they are definitely trying to shout people down over an important issue.

    For example when they said they received “comprehensive legal advice regarding the Code’s constitutionality“, I assume that to mean they received no proper advice. The claim is obviously not true because parts were copied from the Western Bulldogs Football Club. If they thought the code was constitutional, they would not now be editing it (especially the copied bits).

    When they say there was nothing sinister behind the minutes removal, I assume they definitely must have been removed them to limit information to members. The CEO claims they had complaints about inaccurate minutes, but the real issue was members on Domainer and Dntrade picking apart those minutes and finding out the real story.

    9 people like this.
    • July 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      LMAO re Western Bulldogs. Amateur hour at auda. How much does CEO get paid to come up with crud like this?

      3 people like this.
  • July 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Once a politician, always a politician


    6 people like this.
  • July 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I struggled reading this.  Struggled because Paul, those words are so accurate.  Your Sol Trujillo analogy is apt and as an ex-Telstra staff member of 10 years I lived through the first few years of  the Telstra-Trujillo Tragedy. I eagerly departed for the opportunity offered at auDA and I can assure all, I loved my job at Telstra….until Sol. Oh and yes I did complaints management there too.

    I won’t go and bore anyone or rant.  Suffice to say: “To speak and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.” Thank you Paul for being that wise man.

    18 people like this.
    • July 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      The 3 amigos. Remember those days well. What a disaster that experiment was for staff and shareholders of Telstra. The mexicans were the only winners. History repeating perhaps at auda with a different set of amigos?


      3 people like this.

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