Yesterday, the 2019 auDA AGM was held in Melbourne. It was a timid and stage managed affair which officially lasted around 48 minutes (including questions). For those interested, there is an audio stream of the meeting. But be quick – it could be taken down at any time.

Before I review the past “performance and cast”, I very much welcome the new production. I think I speak for a lot of people – including all the decent “back office” staff that are continuing on – when I say that. There is an air of optimism and excitement for the season that lies ahead – particularly given the highly experienced and successful performers that have been appointed.


Some Highlights / Lowlights of the AGM

  • I am advised that there was security on the door checking peoples bags for rotten tomatoes and other items capable of being thrown. 😉
  • The meeting was introduced by auDA’s new head of Corporate Affairs – Clayton Ford. He has been in the job only a couple of days, but he looks to have an impressive background. I wish him well.
  • The departing Chair Suzie Ewart praised the work of her outgoing Board and all that they had achieved. I have to say I did not recognize the organisation she was referring to. Continuing with a theatrical theme, one only has to look back at Board Minutes and press / blog news to see that most audiences have endured a continuing “bad opera” where a lot of the lead performers were to blame.
  • At the introduction of General Business (question time), Suzie Ewart made it very clear that she was not going to speak or take any questions about the departure of the previous CEO Cameron Boardman. For a membership organisation, this was poor form in my opinion. You can hear her exact words at 23:05 on the audio stream. If it gets taken down, I have a recording which I will put up.
  • Hopefully the new Board will investigate what happened with regards the alleged “fudging” of Boardman’s academic qualifications which enabled him to get the job in the first place. And of course examine why the old Board agreed to pay him out a year’s salary despite being long aware of the issue.
  • A couple of members quite rightly queried the voting system for elected directors. The system auDA used (where you can vote negatively) is suitable for an ASX AGM where there are lots of resolutions to be voted on, but was not acceptable for a membership organisation that was simply trying to elect 4 candidates from a field of just six. This resulted in only 3 Directors being appointed instead of four. The domain investor candidate (Christopher Norris) who was put forward by the Nomination Committee came in at 4th position with 48% of the votes was not elected. That’s crazy – and I hope the new Chair and Board look at fixing this quickly. It is vitally important to have industry experience at the top table.


Forthcoming Article

There were a series of Right to Know applications made a couple of days ago. The first lot were supposedly in the name of Christopher Leptos (which was obviously fake). When these were abruptly taken down, they were repeated with a different submitter’s name. In the second lot, there was also one about me. Apart from two, these were also taken down. You can view those here.

I intend addressing all of these in a forthcoming article. It seems plainly obvious that the requests were made by a party or parties with access to confidential Board information. My guess is that there were two people working in concert, and as is their nature, they simply wanted to take revenge and settle scores.

Thank goodness we have a new auDA.


Ned O’Meara – 15th November 2019

11 thoughts on “There is a New Show in Town

  • Avatar
    November 15, 2019 at 10:25 am
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    Do you think all the bullet points raised in the domain pulse article will continue to be pursued? I was surprised none of this was raised at the AGM.

    “serious allegations of bullying and intimidation committed by AUDA Chair Chris Leptos between May 2018 and June 2019 resulting in the resignation of a company secretary and an official complaint from a current AUDA staff member”

    a “serious breach of governance and directors duty committed by AUDA director James Deck via his attempt to inappropriately access AUDA marketing funds, specifically” relating to an application using Deck’s position on the Board for “substantial marketing funds for his private business” and that former Chair Leptos “attempted to cover up and misrepresent the conduct of Deck”

    a request for all relevant information on a direction from Departmental Officer Vicki Middleton instructing outgoing acting Chair Suzanne Ewart to “withdraw her application for Chair of the new AUDA board”

    allegations of “verbal abuse directed at Departmental staff member Annaliesse [sic] Williams by AUDA directors Joe Manariti and James Deck at the ICANN meeting in Barcelona in October 2018” including amount of alcohol consumed by Manariti and Deck and response of the then Chair Leptos

    an order by acting Chair Suzanne Ewart “to pay her A$10,000 per week despite there not being a Board resolution or budget for this to occur”, which didn’t include superannuation payments and was in addition to her Chair salary of $70,000 which would have taken her total salary “to $627,000 per year, making her the 9th highest paid public servant in Australia”

    expense claims by the aforementioned Directors James Deck and Joe Manariti relating to their attendance at the ICANN meeting in Barcelona where the FOI request alleges Deck and Manariti’s flights were “booked through Manariti’s wife [sic] travel agency (African Luxury Safaris) at 30% more than market rates and equivalent airfares and contrary to AUDA travel policy” with “4 nights in Prague, 4 nights in Paris and 7 nights in Barcelona which shows that only 3 meeting [sic] were conducted over the 18 day trip”, “hotel accommodation in Barcelona at A$1500 per night for a luxury suite, despite other AUDA staff and directors staying in A$250 per night accommodation and a “total expense claim showing the AUDA was charged over $35,000 for this travel for 3 meetings in 18 days”

    allegations relating to the above travel by Manariti and Deck that “AUDA incurred [an FBT liability] totaling over $11,000 as the travel was of a personal nature and not approved by AUDA and that the Chair of AUDA Suzanne Ewart covered up this liability”.

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  • Avatar
    November 15, 2019 at 12:46 pm
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    As a former head of ASIC, the new Chair is not a lightweight. I don’t think he will tolerate any breaches or flouting of the Corps Act like the past Board and CEO.

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  • Avatar
    November 16, 2019 at 7:37 am
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    With a reform agenda, it is important to have some industry experience at the boardroom table. Not to do so will only lead to further discontent if domain investors and web developers feel that they have no representation.

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    • Avatar
      November 17, 2019 at 5:52 pm
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      SEO companies, Internet Service Providers and several other industry participants are also not represented. Wait, what? Google didn’t get a seat at the table!???

      ISP’s (of all sizes) are relevant as aside from the largest Registrars, collectively they conduct the highest percentage of commercial domain name transactions. Massive in comparison to domainers, or domain investors, so let’s cut the threats and focus on projecting a professional image instead ?

      Whether we represent an SEO company, an ISP or buy and sell domain names for personal profit, we are all consumers.

      The biographies I read within the voting link told the story of Sandra Davey being the chair of Choice, a consumer-focused outfit. Having no appparent monetary connection to the domain name industry she was the best option to represent consumers and the wide-ranging variety of small business operators.

      All sectors are represented and that’s a big Amen!

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      • Avatar
        November 19, 2019 at 7:28 am
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        All sectors are not represented. Using the old stakeholder terminology, the Nominations Committee selected one “supply side” candidate (a registrar), and one “demand class” candidate (a domain investor / broker) to stand for election. The registrar candidate was elected, but the domain investor wasn’t. He should have been because he came in fourth.

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        • Avatar
          November 19, 2019 at 10:54 am
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          Whether we are ISP’s, SEO companies, registrars, resellers, domainers, web designers, domain investors or domain brokers etc etc we are all on the “supply” side of the road. We all register or buy and sell domain names for monetary gain.

          As a collective of domain name suppliers, we do have representation.

          We can’t jump in from both sides.

          True “demand class” would be consumers who register for personal use only.

          That’s not us mate !.

        • Avatar
          November 19, 2019 at 2:57 pm
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          We can’t jump in from both sides.

          True “demand” class would be consumers who register for personal use only [ie: Not for monetary gain – resellers, registrars, domain investors etc.

          We cant complain about the voting, they conducted it within the rules. As an industry we can’t ask them to overturn or fudge member votes just to have a specific sector at the table.

          If that’s a game that can be played, let’s throw in an ISP too.

          Why were my last posts deleted? Transperancy is what we’ve all been fighting for.

          • Neddy
            November 19, 2019 at 3:59 pm
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            Apologies for delay in approving comments. Have been away for most of the day.

            Needless to say, I disagree with most of your arguments, but respect your right to an opinion. I think we all understand your point of view now – no need to carpet bomb us. 🙂

            • Avatar
              November 19, 2019 at 4:58 pm
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              No worries, mate. In a perfect world we would all have an immediate rep at what would be a very large and long table.

      • Avatar
        November 19, 2019 at 1:03 pm
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        Mate, looks like it was 4 “provided that a majority of votes cast in the ballot are in favour of the candidate” The table in the guts of this thread shows only 3 met the criteria.

        If they re-wrote the rules to disregard member votes it would make a mockery of the election. I’m not a fan of Trump, mate, but he got all the votes. Elections tend to work that way whether we like it or not.

  • Avatar
    November 16, 2019 at 7:42 am
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    How was Boardman allowed to wreck the joint for so long? Did he have powerful mates that turned a blind eye?

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