AuDA reformists spy board roles

By Ry Crozier on Oct 17, 2009 12:45 AM
Filed under Services

Four positions to be announced Monday.

Australia's domain name regulator AuDA could find itself the subject of a radical boardroom shake-up after elections scheduled for Monday.

At least two candidates [PDF] for the board hoped to be elected on reform policies that included a review of the role of the chief executive, currently held by Chris Disspain.

Disspain has been contacted by iTnews for comment.

Four director positions were up for renewal at the regulator AuDA's annual general meeting. Voting for the positions closed yesterday.

Two of the candidates - DomainerIncome co-founder Simon Johnson and Online Growth Solutions' chief operating officer Brett Fenton - indicated they will stand on a platform for reforms.

Johnson told iTnews he was confident of securing "at least 10 percent of the vote" but didn't know if "that's going to be enough" to secure a seat on the board.

Fenton, who last held a board position at AuDA between 2005 and 2007, said it was "hard to say" whether he would be able to secure the numbers.

"There's a lot of people in the industry unfortunately who say they're interested in reform but when it comes down to it their votes go to other people," Fenton said.

"I don't think reform is a popular topic."

Both Fenton and Johnson have backed a review of the current AuDA chief's position - something at least Fenton conceded was "quite likely" to cost him crucial votes.

"It doesn't sit well with me that the CEO is also a director of AuDA," Fenton said.

"It means he's not a true instrument of the board. I'm sure that Chris will have a different perspective on this, but today the role should be separated."

Fenton made it clear he did want Disspain's head. "I'm not advocating by any stretch that Chris be ‘boned'," he stated on the dotau DNS list.

Johnson backed the proposal. "I think [Disspain's] position definitely needs to be reviewed, as does the broader mandate of AuDA," he said.

Fenton, too, called for a "significant review" of the domain name regulator.

Both expressed fears that existing board members - that had not been able to enact changes in the organisation - might be re-elected.

"If you look back at AuDA's history, a lot of seats haven't been well contested," Johnson alleged.

"There's a clear pattern of the same types of people being re-elected over and over again."

Fenton, in his policy statement, called for a limit of two consecutive two-year terms for directors.

"If you can't make the reforms you need to make and provide valuable input in a four-year period, I'm not sure you're going to be valuable beyond that," Fenton said.

Fenton said he had taken "some personal feedback" following his last appearance on the AuDA board. The feedback allegedly included that he "be a bit more diplomatic".

"I'm a very black-and-white guy," Fenton said. "I think we should be able to call a spade a spade."

But he admitted he hadn't been as vocal "as he could have been" in his first 12 months in 2005. "It was all a bit new [at that stage]," he said.

Johnson said he would contest the next election if he was not elected on Monday.

"We're not going to sit here and let the Australian namespace stagnate," Johnson said.

"It really needs fresh blood and ideas to help move the industry forward. There's an opportunity to either continue with the current regime or make some pretty tough decisions, and it's going to need a number of people in there to say, ‘Enough, this is not in the best interests of the Australian [regulator] or namespace'."

Other high-profile candidates included Melbourne IT's Kartic Srinivisan, Australian Telecommunications User Group managing director Rosemary Sinclair, and Electronic Frontiers Australia secretary David Cake.

 
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