Tuesday, 29 October 2019 10:50

auDA to vote on another big hike in directors' fees in Nov

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auDA to vote on another big hike in directors' fees in Nov Pixabay

The au Domain Administration, the organisation that manages the Australian domain namespace, will vote on a move to give its directors a hefty pay rise at its forthcoming annual general meeting, with the total targeted figure being $580,000.

In the notice calling for the meeting, it was put this way: "To consider and, if thought fit, pass the following resolution. "That the maximum annual aggregate amount of remuneration that the directors are entitled to be paid out of the funds of auDA, under rule 10.1 of the auDA constitution is fixed at $580,000 inclusive of superannuation."

At last year's AGM, the maximum figure for directors' fees was voted as $170,000 as iTWire reported at the time.

Back in 2018, before that year's AGM, the chair was paid $70,000 plus superannuation while independent directors were paid $40,000 plus super.

In comparison, the remuneration paid by CIRA, the body that manages Canada's domain space, is:

Chair: Annual retainer: C$20,000 (A$22,400)
Fee per meeting (board/committee): C$700/C$300

Vice-chair/committee chairs/corporate secretary
Annual retainer: C$12,000
Fee per meeting (board/committee): C$700/C$300

Director: Annual retainer: C$10,000
Fee per meeting (board/committee): C$700/C$300

iTWire contacted auDA for comment on what seems to be a rather large rise in fees, asking whether the tasks set for the directors had increased manifold judging by the fact that this big increase would be sought.

The only response offered by a spokesperson was: "The auDA Board takes its responsibilities very seriously and is committed to best-practice levels of transparency, accountability, consultation and governance.

"With the Board being reconstituted this year in line with the government's recommendations, at the 2018 AGM it was resolved that an increase in remuneration to accommodate the new Board structure would be put forward for members to approve at the 2019 AGM.

"In reaching this view, the Board considered recommendations of the Nomination Committee, the skills, responsibilities and expectations of directors, and the level of remuneration required for directors to contribute the necessary expertise, time and effort to perform their roles."

No figure was quoted in the reply, though it is very much there in the AGM notice.

Since last year's turmoil, auDA's office-bearers have changed with both independent chair Chris Leptos and chief executive Cameron Boardman having quit. Suzanne Ewart is now the CEO.

A government review into auDA, released in April last year, found the existing management framework was no longer fit for purpose.

Along with the review, the government also released its terms of endorsement for auDA and asked the organisation to provide, within 30 days, an implementation plan to demonstrate how it would achieve compliance with these terms by April 2020. That 30-day window ended on 18 May.

Dissatisfaction within the ranks of auDA broke out into the open in April 2018, when one member, Jim Stewart, the chief executive of StewArt Media, led a call for the ouster of Boardman, Leptos, and directors Sandra Hook and Suzanne Ewart.

Leptos had said at the time that the practices of several former auDA directors had been referred to the police in Victoria. There has been no further statement from auDA as to the outcome of these referrals. The major irritant cited by members was the decision by the board to change Australian domains from .com.au and similar suffixes to .au.

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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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