Is The auDA Board Being A Bit Intolerant?

Provocative headline I know. But in light of recent events, it is a genuine question.

Is Tim Connell being treated fairly and respectfully as a new Demand Class Director on the auDA Board? Or do some of his fellow Directors (and the CEO) view him as an irritant that they have to put up with? Do they perhaps think that he is inferior to them because he doesn’t have a University education? Or because he represents pesky domain investors? I’m not holding my breath for an answer.

This article has been cogitating for a few weeks now. And it was brought to a head when I was accused (a couple of days ago) by an auDA Director of “cyber bullying” female Directors on the Board. That statement was not only ridiculous, but it was offensive in the extreme. I did ask him to explain how I had done that, but no answer has been forthcoming.

So let me turn the spotlight back on the auDA Board – and particularly the Chair, Stuart Benjamin.

Full Disclosure

I need to say the following upfront:

♦ Tim is a friend of mine, but he does not know that I am writing this article.

♦ Tim has never disclosed any confidential auDA Board information to me; nor have I asked him to. I would sign a Statutory Declaration to that effect.

♦ As a friend and supporter of his, I have asked him in general terms how he finds the role as a newly minted Director. I could write a few paragraphs about this, but suffice to say, he’s no longer the ebullient and positive Tim that most of us have come to know. It seems obvious to me and others that he is being treated as an absolute outsider on the Board. It also appears that he has been stymied from interacting with the people that elected him.

♦ Another Director of auDA recently told me that “Tim is wet behind the ears; and is struggling”. That sort of comment indicates to me there is indeed a lack of tolerance for a newly elected Director.

Let’s Start At The Beginning

Two Demand Class candidates supported by a variety of their “constituents” (including domain investors) stood for election at the auDA AGM in November. They were Tim Connell; and Shane Moore. Tim was successful in getting elected, and unfortunately, Shane just missed out. Many people have since speculated that Shane would have indeed been successful had there been more stringent auditing of Demand Class memberships. But it is what it is.

Tim and Shane were attractive candidates to a lot of Demand Class members, because, amongst other things, they stood for better transparency and communication from the auDA Board and Management.

This was always going to be an uphill battle, particularly if you listen to this audio excerpt from the AGM. This is the Chair, Stuart Benjamin, answering a question in relation to candidate statements. In it he says:

“A number of candidates have made some rather large statements which are against the Corporations Act; or potentially against the interests of the organisation …”

 

What Is The Role Of A Director?

Obviously there are many responsibilities and obligations. But let’s just look at one – because this pertains to the subject matter of this article.

Here’s a brief excerpt from The Australian Institute of Company Directors “Director’s Signpost – Your Guide To Directorship”.

Starting at the bottom of Page 25, it says:

The courage to ask critical and searching questions

Directors must be prepared to challenge both management and their fellow board
members. This can be difficult, particularly when they disagree with the prevailing
opinion, or the opinion held by particularly strong or dominating members of
the board.

Good directors will listen to other opinions with an open mind and be assertive
but not aggressive in putting forward their own point of view. They will also be
able to differentiate between challenging an idea and attacking an individual.

“A new or aspiring director’s great asset is a fresh pair of eyes – and there’s no such
thing as a dumb question.” Dr Stephen Judd GAICD

Having said this, I also accept this premise on Page 26:

Respect for fellow directors

A decision by directors is taken collectively, whether determined consensually or
by majority. It binds all directors.

A strong and stable professional relationship with other directors is built on
mutual respect.

Conclusion

I call on the Chair to ensure that:

♦  Tim is afforded the opportunity to express and debate his opinions (and those of his “constituents”) in a proper and respectful manner at Board and Committee level.

♦  All elected Directors (Supply and Demand) should be allowed to communicate in general terms with their constituent base about what’s going on at auDA. Particularly given that auDA is a membership organisation. (Members of Parliament are allowed to do this once a Cabinet decision has been made. As are Local Government Councillors).

And please take note auDA – it’s only a matter of time before more of us “pesky domain investors” join your exalted ranks. 😉

Ned O’Meara – 10th May 2017


Disclaimer

17 thoughts on “Is The auDA Board Being A Bit Intolerant?

  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 11:57 am
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    Gee, if they don’t like Tim as a board member I’d hate to see how they’d tolerate me? 🙂

    Great article about a hard working, domain-name-loving guy called Tim. Tim would be more in touch with small to medium Australian business domain name users than the majority of the board. I think it will be crazy if they don’t utilise his experience in this regard from this point forward.

    Don’t let ’em push you around, Tim, and remember the words of the late, great David Crocket…

    “First be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

     

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    • Avatar
      May 10, 2017 at 9:13 pm
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      Agree they could have ended up with some real loose cannons.

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  • Scott.L
    May 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm
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    I doubt the independant chair is bringing any independent and fresh perspectives to decision-making; who would know, its not like auDA would provide us an article to such effect in their monthly newsletter. it boggles the mind, so lets give those with the Masters degree to speak for us then. 

    “Examples of interests, positions, associations and relationships that might cause doubts about the independence of a director include if the director:

    • Is, or has been, employed in an executive capacity by the entity or any of its child entities and there has not been a period of at least three years between ceasing such employment and serving on the board;

    • Is, or has within the last three years been, a partner, director or senior employee of a provider of material professional services to the entity or any of its child entities;

    • Has been a director of the entity for such a period that his or her independence may have been compromised

    Source:http://aicd.companydirectors.com.au…-tools-bc-non-executive-directors_a4_web.ashx

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 4:01 pm
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    auDA has again awoken the giant “Ned” they thought was sleeping or had retired and they could ignore.

    Ned is one of the many speaking out, congratulations again to them all for doing it and keeping the real focus and light where it belongs on the many remaining issues at auDA which remain they are seemingly trying to deflect attention from.

    auDA would probably love to have Ned on the auDA board so they could attempt to possibly mute him with what seem to be some internal auDA board member policies negating any form of questioning or non conforming to certain board members views, votes etc.

    Ned has done a great job to rightfully bring this to the attention of everyone. I do hope auDA and the auDA board pay attention to it;

    “The courage to ask critical and searching questions

    Directors must be prepared to challenge both management and their fellow board members. This can be difficult, particularly when they disagree with the prevailing opinion, or the opinion held by particularly strong or dominating members of the board.

    Good directors will listen to other opinions with an open mind and be assertive
    but not aggressive in putting forward their own point of view. They will also be
    able to differentiate between challenging an idea and attacking an individual.

    “A new or aspiring director’s great asset is a fresh pair of eyes – and there’s no such thing as a dumb question.” Dr Stephen Judd GAICD

    http://asic.gov.au/for-business/running-a-company/company-officeholder-duties/whistleblowers-company-officeholder-obligations/

    “Corporate cultures of silence, which allow wrong doing to go undetected, are seen as contributing to the recent round of local and international corporate failures.”

    “NAB’s highly regimented culture acted to impede transparency and mollify the message when it involved acknowledging concerns or difficulties at operational level. (page 72 of the report)”

    http://asic.gov.au/about-asic/asic-investigations-and-enforcement/whistleblowing/guidance-for-whistleblowers/

    “These protections encourage people within companies, or with special connections to companies, to alert the company (through its officers), or ASIC, to illegal behaviour.”

    https://www.whistleblowing.com.au/solutions/?gclid=CPbItfLS5NMCFYiBvQodZBkNDQ
    “BEST PRACTICE COMPLIANCE
    Designed to meet the requirements of: –  AS 8004-2003 ‘Whistleblower Protection Programs for Entities’ –  AS 8001-2008 ‘Fraud and Corruption Control’ –  AS 8000-2003 ‘Good Governance Principles’ –  AS 8002-2003 ‘Organisational Codes of Conduct’ –  AS 3806-2006 ‘Compliance Programs’ –  The Corporations Act & the protection of whistleblowers –  ASX Principles of Good Governance & Best Practice Recommendations”
     

    ______________________

    What again is the process for auDA Board members to rightfully speak out?

    What is the auDA Whistleblower policy for board members, staff, ex staff, members, suppliers, ex suppliers etc?

    Is wrongly muting everyone, censoring information and deleting documents from the auDA website the new and only auDA “best practice” solution?

    http://www.transparency.org/what-is-corruption/#what-is-transparency

     

     

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 10, 2017 at 6:21 pm
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      @John – the only reason I am commenting in “spades” is because I am incensed by the “about turn” on transparency and communication which was promised at the AGM in November.

      It’s a very simple fix for auDA. Restore Minutes; Agendas and Reports. This is owed to Members.

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 4:10 pm
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    I can’t speak for Tim, but I’m sure it would be tough in there without any support.

    Knowing Tim there is no doubt he’s doing his best and not taking a backwards step, but life would be a whole lot easier with more support on the board.

    My position last year was that the board is massively lacking in genuine small business experience.  Not just people who may have worked in or with small businesses, but people who actually live and breath small business, which in my opinion can only come from ownership.

    Tim fits this mould.  He gets it.  We need more of his ilk on the board, rather than people who just have a pretty CV.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a pretty CV, but we need the right mix.

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 10, 2017 at 6:16 pm
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      Spot on about SME’s Shane – and the right mix.

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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    Tim is a Hacker and desperately needs a Humphrey.

    • Ned O'Meara
      May 10, 2017 at 6:15 pm
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      @David – even Bernard will do in a pinch.

      Bernard

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 5:43 pm
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    Tim has seemingly been intimidated, and subsequently muzzled, to the effect that he can not discuss anything to do with auDA, or indeed engage with the auDA members that voted for him.

    I don’t blame Tim, I’m just disappointed that the supposedly new auDA regime, by all appearances, is as bad, if not worse, than the old regime.

    Keep on turning over rocks Ned.

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    • Ned O'Meara
      May 10, 2017 at 6:08 pm
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      Nice post Andrew.

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 5:48 pm
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    https://www.auda.org.au/news/auda-board-appoints-new-chair/

    http://www.domainer.com.au/auda-happenings/

    http://www.domainer.com.au/this-is-embarrassing-auda/

    http://www.domainer.com.au/auda-a-significant-change/

    _____________

    How much is the Independent Chair Stuart Benjamin paid by auDA per year? Where is this information on the auDA website?

    What was is his actual domain name industry Supply or Demand experience he had prior to be “placed” on the auDA Board?

    What relationship political, personal, financial or business does he have with any auDA staff or other auDA Board members prior to him being placed on the auDA Board as Independent Director & Chairman?

    Where are the details of his disclaimers for members and others to assess. In most countries these are available for the public to see on the domain name administration organisations website.

    It appears Mr. Benjamin is not truly “independent” and I personally wonder what his motives are for being involved with auDA. Are they political? Are they financial? Is he a figurehead for someone or any particular group or people to help grease the wheel of decisions and sign off?

    Although these seem to be met with a brick wall response at least some people are asking questions of auDA which raise issues into the public and Commonwealth government’s domain.

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

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

    _____

    People may have concerns about what Senator Mitch Fifield will do about the many auDA issues as he appears to have close political connections to some at auDA and on the auDA board… maybe this is giving some the feeling they continue to do as they wish while in “control” of the “new” auDA with nothing happening…. time will tell.

    I hear a group of concerned parties has made a trip to Canberra today to meet the Minister…

    http://www.mitchfifield.com/

    Interesting to see the Senator uses a  .com and not .com.au domain name!

    CONTACT SENATOR FIFIELD
    Click here to email me

    Electorate Office
    42 Florence Street
    MENTONE VIC 3194

    Phone: 03 9584 2455
    Phone Toll Free
    (Vic only): 1300 797 110
    Fax: 03 9584 8347

    Parliament House Office
    Parliament House
    CANBERRA ACT 2600
    Phone: 02 6277 7480

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    • Avatar
      May 10, 2017 at 9:02 pm
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      I’m guessing he’s paid something close to this John,
      “To ratify the Board’s resolution made at its meeting in August 2014 to increase the amount payable to the independent Directors to an amount not exceeding $150,000 in aggregate per annum.”

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      • Avatar
        May 11, 2017 at 9:12 am
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        Just reading this again I guess they could mean $150,000 maximum split between all directors by this statement.

         

        Anyone know how it works?

        • Ned O'Meara
          May 11, 2017 at 9:28 am
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          @Snoopy – my understanding is that the auDA Board agreed to pay Stuart Benjamin a Chairman’s fee which is significantly different to what Supply / Demand Class Directors receive. Same applied to Tony Staley when he was in the Chair.

          I did read this in the Minutes somewhere, but alas, they are no more. 😉

          However, as Members, we’re entitled to know. Why not fire off a quick letter to the CEO / auDA Board?

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  • Avatar
    May 10, 2017 at 8:57 pm
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    48% of demand voters chose Tim 1st or 2nd at the election, AUDA is making a mistake treating him as they do.

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    • Avatar
      May 11, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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      And the other “questionable” demand members (supply associated) votes perhaps went to the “demand” representative Simon?

      No one from the real demand memberships have seen or heard from Simon for years..

      Simon certainly does not represent true demand members in any way it seems… time for him to be replaced, or for him to stand down?

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