Australian Domain Name Administrator (AuDA) chair Alan Cameron said the agency has now completed all recommendations arising from the 2018 government review of auDA, noting as well that it now possesses new governance and accountability frameworks and a "revitalised commitment" to transparency, broad engagement, and ensuring ongoing capability.
"We now have a revitalised and robust governance regime, a comprehensive policy framework focusing on transparency and accountability, and a renewed emphasis on consultation and stakeholder engagement," auDA wrote in its annual report [PDF], released on Monday.
The not-for-profit policy authority and industry self-regulatory body for the .au domain space said it would implement the new auDA licensing framework, which is designed to modernise and simplify the rules around the licensing of .au domain names.
This includes the proposed introduction of direct registration at the second level of the .au namespace. Direct registration allows a registrant to register a domain name that is immediately before the .au.
"Direct registration provides consumers, organisations, and businesses with more choice of namespaces, which is particularly important as the online economy continues to develop and more of the community want to have an online presence," the report said.
"Australia is currently the only OECD country that does not offer direct registrations in its country code domain. We have consulted widely on this initiative and will continue to communicate with our stakeholders on the timing and process for implementation, which we expect to progress considerably in 2020/2021."
As of 30 June 2020, the total number of domains under management by auDA was 3,180,395, encompassing the namespaces in the .au country code top-level domain (ccTLD), which includes com.au, net.au, org.au, asn.au, id.au, gov.au, edu.au, vic.au, nsw.au, act.au, qld.au, nt.au, wa.au, sa.au, and tas.au.
The total figure represents a decrease of less than 1% from June 30 in the previous year.
"Creation of new domains in the last three months of the financial year increased significantly over the same period last year, coinciding with COVID-19 measures that saw an increase in businesses and organisations moving online following restrictions placed on the community's access to bricks and mortar premises," the report said.
Around 2.8 million have the com.au namespace; just over 223,00 are net.au; more than 73,000 are org.au; and just shy of 1,200 are gov.au.
New South Wales boasts just shy of 1.1 million .au domains under management by auDA.
The registry operations in the .au namespace are performed by Afilias Australia, a subsidiary of registry operator Afilias Inc.
auDA said it works closely with Afilias to ensure that the registry performance "meets the user requirements of being fast, reliable, and secure".
auDA said traffic on the Afilias servers in 2019-2020 slightly increased compared to 2018-2019. 19,400 was the average number of queries per second (qps) across the Afilias name server infrastructure with a maximum qps of 75,000.
The average qps for Australian origin domains was 5,500 and at peak, traffic from within Australia hit 15,900 qps. Average qps for international traffic was 13,900 and a maximum of 69,400 qps.
Also under auDA's current remit is complaints handling. When the new licensing rules are implemented in 2021, enquiries and complaints will be handled by registrars in the first instance.
"auDA will continue to be an avenue of review and deal with escalated complaints," it added.
In 2019-2020, auDA received a total of 4,458 complaints and 3,426 enquiries.
The average time to close a complaint was 14 days.
Of the complaints that were upheld, 2,221 were related to eligibility queries and the next highest category was suspected criminal activity, with 368 enquiries.
auDA said it regularly receives law enforcement requests from state and Commonwealth law enforcement bodies where there has been an alleged breach of the law
"In 2019/2020 we received 52 law enforcement requests. Of those, four were upheld, four were denied, and 44 were closed with the outcome 'advised' -- where we responded to a request for information," it wrote on the matter.