From the auDA Chair: 150 Day Report
Dear auDA Members and Stakeholders,
I’m writing to provide you with my 150 day report.
Since being appointed the Independent Chair of auDA five months ago, your Board and management have had a hectic work schedule, and I would like to personally thank each of them for their commitment to delivering a stable and reliable operating environment for the .au domain.
The auDA board recognises that .au domains are being challenged on one flank by global domains such as .com, and on the other flank by commercial platforms such as mobile apps, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and whatever comes next. To maintain and promote the operational stability and utility of the .au namespace in this environment we will need to provide a state‑of-the-art service offering, and a twenty‑first-century governance structure.
Here are some of the decisions that have been implemented in the past 150 days to deliver on those ambitious objectives:
- a new registry operator (Afilias Australia) has commenced transition preparations to take over the registry operations, along with significant infrastructure upgrades to improve reliability and speed;
- a commitment to a $12 million multi-year investment in cooperative marketing to promote the benefits of the .au namespace;
- a reduction of at least 10% in the wholesale fee for domain registrations and renewals;
- introduction of variable licence periods of 1 year to 5 years, to give Australian businesses and consumers flexibility with managing their domain names;
- coordination with Federal agencies to secure the .au namespace from external threats;
- introduction of a streamlined membership application process to make it easier for members to join auDA, combined with some improvements in member communications;
- formal monthly briefings with registrars on registry transition and industry issues;
- continuing consultations by the Policy Review Panel (chaired by Mr John Swinson) including a national public awareness campaign of possible models for ‘direct registration’ domain names with public forums in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane;
- a formal and widely advertised recruitment process for two new Demand Class directors;
- improved board governance with current and proposed directors being evaluated against a skills matrix, and subject to probity checks, with several directors also undertaking Australian Institute of Company Directors training;
- updated Terms of Reference and membership for the Board committees; and
- new company policies to provide best practice financial control and accountability.
All of these matters are important and positive developments for auDA, but I know there is much more to be done.
At the same time, I am disappointed to advise you that in my first week as Independent Chair I was briefed on a number of practices of several former auDA directors. Your Board concluded that those practices warranted referral to the Victoria Police. As you would appreciate, it is not appropriate at this stage to provide further details regarding this matter.
You should also know that Demand Class members have written to auDA to call for another Special General Meeting (SGM) – the second SGM to be called in 9 months. I will be writing to you further in relation to this development once the logistics for the meeting have been confirmed.
We shortly expect to receive the Government review into the .au domain space, which is being conducted by the Department of Communications and the Arts.
Finally, you should feel free to write to me at [email protected] to let me know what we should be doing better. Please keep it concise and constructive, and be prepared to meet to discuss it more fully.
I look forward to providing further updates in the weeks and months ahead.
Chris Leptos AM
.au Domain Administration Limited