The domain name training.com.au was, until today, registered to The Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations.
The Department website says “On 18 September 2013 the Department of Education and the Department of Employment was created out of the former Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.”
The department's ownership of training.com.au expired today at 1pm and went to auction with the winning bid of AU$30,110.
The winning bidder was Now Hiring Pty Ltd, which operates a jobs website and is also a joint venture partner with iTWire in jobswiregurus.com.au.
It seems that before today training.com.au redirected to training.gov.au, a government-run website with information for apprenticeships and traineeships, courses and training providers, and the National Register of VET.
The website is now in private hands however, and can be used at the total discretion of Now Hiring for whatever it wishes.
“This happens all too frequently, both in the public and private sectors.” said Simon Johnson, Director of IPNeighborhood.com, a Melbourne-based brand protection firm.
“If the Australian government were managing their domain names like any other asset, then they could be alerted in advance and renewed the domain name. Unfortunately, once its gone, its gone.”
According to IPNeighborhood, the sale of training.com.au for $30,110 is in the record books as the eighth highest public sale in Australia. It's extremely rare for governments (or private companies for that matter) to let such prestigious domains expire.
Visiting the site right now leads to the message "training.com.au parked with Netfleet.com.au
"Is this your domain name?
"Get started and list your domain name for sale on Netfleet, and you could be receiving offers today straight from this page."
A similar situation occured last year in the US when medicaid.com, which was a website providing information on the US government's 'Obamacare' Medicaid program. It expired however, and was purchased by Tennessee company Medx Publishing Inc, which also owns the domain name Medicare.com. In a move that is surely confusing for US citizens Medicaid.com now redirects to http://www.uhccommunityplan.com, a private insurers' website.
The Department of Industry and Now Hiring have both been contacted for comment.