.au Domain Administration

.au Domain Administration (auDA) is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain, which is the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Australia. It was formed in 1999 to manage the .au ccTLD with the endorsement of the Australian Government and the authority of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). It is a not-for-profit membership organisation that promotes and protects the .au domain space for all Australians.

.au Domain Administration Ltd.
  • Level 17, 1 Collins Street, Melbourne, Australia
Area served
Key people
Vacant (CEO)
Suzanne Ewart (Chair)


Early history of .au

The operation of the .au ccTLD began in 1986 with the delegation of .au administration to Robert Elz of the University of Melbourne by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Elz devised the second-level domain (2LD) name structure, including .com.au, .net.au, .edu.au and .org.au, and introduced policies concerning eligibility for these domains. These policies included reserving the .com.au 2LD for registered commercial entities trading in Australia, and only being able to register a domain that closely aligned with a registrant's commercial name.[1] Elz was responsible for the day-to-day operation of the .au ccTLD with all services provided free. By 1996, as businesses realised the commercial potential of the Internet, management of registrations became too great a job for Elz to accomplish by himself. Elz licensed the .com.au 2LD operation exclusively to Melbourne IT, the commercial arm of the University of Melbourne, for a term of five years.[2]

Elz did not charge for domain services, but Melbourne IT ran domain registration on a for-profit basis, charging between $125–150 per year for registrations.[3] Melbourne IT intended to remove the registration of pre-existing .com.au names whose owners had not paid registration fees by March 1997. This prompted ISP iiNet to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of .com.au domain holders. iiNet withdrew this action when Melbourne IT assured them it would not remove existing domains until at least October 1997, when competition in the .com.au administration was expected to exist.[4]

However, disenchantment in the way the .au domain was run persisted, leading to demand for a single regulatory body to oversee the namespace.[5]

See .oz for the early history of .oz.au.

Birth of auDA

In recognition of the deteriorating state of .au, the Australian Internet community – primarily through several key industry associations and personalities – held a series of forums to work out a way forward.[6] The result of this period of collaboration was the establishment in June 1997 of a new policy development body called Australian Domain Name Administration, or ADNA[7] tasked with taking control of .au and operating the domain space for the public good.

ADNA, however, was marked by internal conflicts.[8] After two years of internal struggles, ADNA was renamed .au Domain Administration (auDA) and adopted a new constitution, procedures, and board.[9] The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts set objectives for the new auDA board to reach in order for the new entity to gain endorsement as an industry self-regulatory body,[10] endorsement achieved in December 2000.

Preparing the new regime

The inaugural board of the new organisation was elected in April 1999, and began the task of trying to help mould a new framework of policies for the .au domain space. As part of the process, the organisation obtained a reassignment of management of the .au domain space from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN),[11] which had absorbed the responsibility for global root domain administration from IANA. This was the first formal agreement ICANN ever signed with a ccTLD operator. With the endorsement of the Australian Government[12] and ICANN, auDA became the recognised ccTLD body for the .au domain space.

auDA undertook reviews into .au domain policies. These reviews utilised experts from relevant fields to consider public and stakeholder submissions and feedback and devise policies. Key auDA panels that shaped the current .au landscape include the Name Policy Advisory Panel of 2000,[13] and the Competition Model Advisory Panel of 2000.[14] The latter concluded that the .au domain space should be as open as possible, with competition at both the domain name registry and the domain name registrar levels.[15] The Name Policy Advisory Panel resulted in naming policy remaining mostly unchanged, with the exception of the .id.au sub-domain which was liberalised.[16]

In 2001, as a result of the Competition Model Advisory Panel's report, the operation of five key .au registries – .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au and .id.au was put to tender. The winning bidder(s) were to operate the registry for four years. One bid, encompassing all five registries, from AusRegistry won.[17]

After 16 years of running the .AU registry, AusRegistry lost a competitive tender process to Afilias, who will take over the running of the .AU registry on 1 July 2018.[18]

Growth and Liberalisation

The new regime of competition and name policy began on 1 July 2002, with AusRegistry as the new domain name registry operator with 282,632 domain names under management.[19] The new domain environment saw an increase in registrations, growing by over 3,000 domains in the first month of operations.[5] Further liberalisation of domain policies over the next few years, including the abolition of limits on the number of domains owned and removal of rules banning the registration of generic domains (such as flowers.com.au) saw the total domains under management grow to 710,428 by June 2006 – a growth of 252% in four years.[5]

By January 2017, there were more than 3 million .au domains under the management of AusRegistry,[20] with the .au domain space enjoying a trusted reputation among domains in Australia.[21]


auDA is the policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space, charged with managing and maintaining a secure and stable domain name system. It achieves this through its main functions including: the development and implementation of domain name policy in the .au domain space, the licensing of 2LD registry operators, the accreditation and licensing of registrars and facilitating .au dispute resolutions.

Through its sponsorship agreement with ICANN, auDA represents .au at ICANN meetings and other international fora, and is also responsible for the management of the .au domain name system zone file. The zone file is a text file which contains a list of DNS servers for the second-level domains in the .au domain space and contains the IP addresses of DNS servers for .au and second-level domains, where those DNS servers themselves are within .au.

auDA also oversees and deploys new technologies and initiatives in the .au name space, which includes Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) auDA's own Information Security Standard (ISS). The ISS security standard was developed by a security group formed by auDA after a compromise on a registrars data systems. The ISS standard is based on ISO 27001. The Total Internet Group comprising ddns.com.au, cheaperdomains.com.au & ib.com.au are the first registrars to be accredited in 2013 a world first for the domain name industry . [22]

Domain Name Policies

Informed by the original domain eligibility criteria developed by Robert Elz, auDA has maintained a policy of requiring registrants to have either an exact match or a "close and substantial connection"[23] to their desired domain name. This "policy rich"[24] approach to the name space, begun by Elz and continued by auDA, has meant the .au domain space has avoided the cybersquatting and other illicit uses of domains prevalent in other more permissive domains.

In 2016, the auDA board announced its decision to introduce direct registrations in .au – for example "yourname.au" – after the submission of the final report of the 2015 Names Policy Panel.[25] This follows on from the introduction of direct registration in the .uk and .nz domain spaces. Direct registration is due to be implemented in 2017.

Disputes and Complaints

auDA is responsible for handling complaints and reducing fraud in domain name registration. This responsibility includes complaints regarding .au domain names, referred to as domain complaints and complaints concerning .au registrars and resellers, known as industry complaints. This responsibility does not extend to complaints about the content or use of websites which may be handled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a state or territory fair trading office, or the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, depending on the nature and content of the complaint.

Domain complaints may relate to registrant eligibility – such as whether registrants meet the 'close and substantial connection' rule for domain eligibility – transfers, prohibited misspellings or other breaches of domain name licence terms and conditions. Industry complaints may relate to the management or services provided by an auDA accredited registrar, breaches of auDA codes of practice or other policies. In some cases, this has involved legal action.[26]

Membership and Organisational Structure

Membership is open to all stakeholders of the Australian domain system. Members are entitled to vote at General Meetings of auDA and to nominate and elect representatives to the board of directors.

The board is ultimately responsible for directing the organisation, and is selected through a vote of its members in two distinct categories:

  • Supply class members (companies that sell domain names or related services, such as registry operators, registrars and resellers)
  • Demand class members representing domain name holders, Internet users and the general public

These two groups each have half of the contestable board positions (four each), with up to three independent directors appointed by the elected directors. These independent directors must not otherwise be associated with auDA, the registry operator or any registrar.[27] This breakdown is aimed at providing a broad balance of opinion to the board from different sectors of the local Internet and the wider community.

The previous chairman is Stuart Benjamin, an independent board member with a background in regional development across Victoria.[28] Mr Benjamin resigned as a director before a member vote to oust him.[29]

auDA's chief executive officer role is currently vacant, the previous CEO was Cameron Boardman, who joined auDA in August 2016. He has previously worked in the Victorian Department of Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, and was chief architect of the Victorian Government's cybersecurity initiatives.[30]

The Australian Government is currently undertaking a review of Australia's .au domain management, to ensure it remains fit for purpose in serving the needs of Australians online.[31] auDA has welcomed the government review.[32]

Open second-level domains managed by auDA

  • .asn.au – For non-commercial organisations. Includes associations incorporated in any Australian State or Territory, political parties, trade unions, sporting or special interest clubs, charities or non-profit organisations.
  • .com.au – For commercial purposes. Includes commercial entities, currently registered and trading in Australia, as well as commercial products and services.
  • .id.au – For Australian individuals (citizens, residents).
  • .net.au – For commercial purposes. Includes commercial entities, currently registered and trading in Australia, as well as commercial products and services.
  • .org.au – For non-commercial organisations. Includes associations incorporated in any Australian State or Territory, political parties, trade unions, sporting or special interest clubs, charities or non-profit organisations.

Closed second-level domains

  • .edu.au – For educational and training institutions, managed on behalf of auDA by Education Services Australia.
  • .gov.au – For Australian Federal, State, Territory and Local government entities. Managed by the Digital Transformation Agency.
  • .csiro.au – For the sole use of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), managed by CSIRO.

Geographic second-level domains

Community geographic domain names[33] were added in August 2006.[34]

  • .act.au – Australian Capital Territory
  • .nsw.au – New South Wales
  • .nt.au – Northern Territory
  • .qld.au – Queensland
  • .sa.au – South Australia
  • .tas.au – Tasmania
  • .vic.au – Victoria
  • .wa.au – Western Australia

See also


  1. Report of the Name Policy Advisory Panel (PDF) (Report). .au Domain Administration Ltd. 31 July 2000. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  2. Clarke, Roger (29 January 2004). "Origins and Nature of the Internet in Australia". Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  3. Selby, John. "Market Disclosure and Governance Challenges When Floating University Research on the Stock Market: The Float of Melbourne IT Limited by the University of Melbourne". (2014/2015) 23(2) Journal of Law, Information and Science 1.
  4. "iiNet Timeline". iiNet.net.au. iiNet Technologies Pty Ltd. 1998. Archived from the original on 24 February 1998. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  5. "30 years of .au: Growing the Aussie Internet 1996–2006" (PDF). Behind the Dot. Melbourne, Australia: AusRegistry. August 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  6. Rowe, Joshua (October 2008). Improving Internet Usability – A Framework For Domain Name Policy Evaluation (PDF) (BAppSc(CompSc)). RMIT University. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  7. Gerrand, Peter (26 June 1997). "Australian Domain Name Administration Formed" (Press release). Sydney, Australia: Australian Domain Name Administration. Archived from the original on 3 December 1998. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  8. Lance, Kate (September 1998). The Domain Name System: Engineering vs Economics. AUUG98 Conference. Sydney, Australia.
  9. "ISOC-AU Applauds Domain Name Reform Process" (PDF) (Press release). Sydney, Australia: Internet Society of Australia. 26 April 1999. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  10. Transfer of Authority for the .au ccTLD: Report on auDA's Achievements and Capacity to Manage Domain Names in Australia (PDF) (Report). .au Domain Administration Ltd. 9 October 2000. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  11. "ccTLD Agreement Signed with auDA" (Press release). Marina del Rey, California: ICANN. 25 October 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  12. Alston, Senator the Hon Richard (December 2000). "Report of auDA's Achievements" (PDF) (PDF). Letter to .au Domain Administrator Ltd. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  13. "Name Policy Advisory Panel". .au Domain Administration Ltd. July 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  14. "Competition Model Advisory Panel". .au Domain Administration Ltd. June 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  15. Report of Policies in .au Second Level Domains (PDF) (Report). .au Domain Administration Ltd. June 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  16. Report of Policies in .au Second Level Domains (PDF) (Report). .au Domain Administration Ltd. April 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  17. "auDA Awards Registry Tender to RegistrarsAsia Subsidiary" (Press release). Melbourne, Australia: .au Domain Administration Ltd. 12 December 2001. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  18. "Afilias Chosen to Supply .au Registry Services". 18 December 2017.
  19. .au Survey 2013 (PDF) (Report). AusRegistry. September 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  20. AusRegistry EOM Report for General Release (PDF) (Report). AusRegistry. January 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  21. ".au Survey 2016 Findings Released". AusRegistry. 27 October 2016. Archived from the original on 13 February 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  22. auda.org.au/news
  23. "Guidelines on the Interpretation of Policy Rules for Open 2LDs". .au Domain Administration Ltd. 17 December 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  24. "2013 Pearcey Hall of Fame". Pearcey Foundation. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  25. 2015 Names Policy Panel Final Report (PDF) (Report). .au Domain Administration Ltd. December 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  26. "Domain Name Reseller to provide refunds following ACCC Federal Court action". Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 5 December 2002. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  27. "Constitution of .au Domain Administration Ltd". .au Domain Administration Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  28. "auDA Appoints New Chair". .au Domain Administration Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  29. "auDA Chair Faces the Music and Resigns Before Vote to Oust Him". Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  30. "Our Executive Team". .au Domain Administration Ltd. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  31. "Review of Australia's .au domain management". Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  32. "Review of Australia's .au management – Submission by .au Domain Administration Limited" (PDF). Retrieved 18 December 2017.
  33. "auDA to create new geographic 2LDs – state/territory.au". .au Domain Administration Ltd. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  34. "auDA reviews community geographic domain names policy". .au Domain Administration Ltd. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
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