Monday, 23 April 2018 05:07

auDA wants SGM put off, raises spectre of court action Featured

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The board of the au Domain Administration, the body that administers the Australian domain namespace, has threatened legal action if members do not agree to hold a special meeting requested by some to push for the ouster of four officials, at the same time as the annual general meeting.

In a letter sent to members on Friday, company secretary Hasaka Martin said that if members did not agree to this, then the board would apply for a court order under the Corporations Act to extend the time for calling the SGM.

On 7 April, some members had called for an SGM to push for the resignation of chief executive Cameron Boardman, and three directors – board chair Chris Leptos, Sandra Hook and Suzanne Ewart.

The letter calling for the SGM, signed by Jim Stewart, chief executive of digital marketing company StewArt Media, and two other members, Joshua Rowe and Paul Szyndler, pointed out that as per the rules, a meeting needed to be called within 21 days of a letter that had the necessary number of signatures — there are 319 members and 5% or about 16 signatures are needed — being received. Szyndler is a former senior auDA executive.

The major factor behind the push for getting rid of the four officials is the decision by the board to change Australian domains from .com.au and similar suffixes to .au.

But Martin said in his missive that, after considering the request, "the board has formed the view that it is in the best interests of the organisation and its members to hold the requested SGM on the same day as auDA's annual general meeting".

He said one reason for coming to this conclusion was because auDA had to consider its response to a government review released on 18 April that found the current management framework was no longer fit for purpose.

Along with the review, the government has also released its terms of endorsement for the authority and asked auDA to provide, within 30 days, an implementation plan to demonstrate how it would achieve compliance with these terms by April 2020.

"Some of the reforms proposed by the DoCA Review will fundamentally affect auDA's governance and structure, and require serious consideration before they can be put to members in a meaningful way," Martin wrote.

"The board has resolved to engage meaningfully with members around any constitutional reforms borne out of the DOCA Review, prior to recommending to members a new Constitution for adoption."

Secondly, he said as the review was released only on 18 April, it was not possible to give members a complete picture of auDA's position before the time when the SGM needed to be called based on the requisition that had been received.

"The board is concerned to ensure that the right of the members to elect and remove directors is always exercised in a manner that is fully informed by all of the circumstances of the company," Martin wrote.

"Only by considering the requested resolutions alongside necessary reforms will members be able to exercise their rights with a full picture of auDA and its future."

He also pointed to the costs of holding an additional meeting. "By way of illustration, auDA incurred almost $70,000 in costs in addition to the time and administrative resources expended by auDA staff and disruption to business in calling and holding an SGM on 31 July 2017."

On Friday, auDA lost another of its directors with the resignation of the well-credentialled Nicole Murdoch, a director from the demand class. Another director, Luke Summers, quit on 7 April.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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