TUANZ faces extinction, members told

CEO Paul Brislen says the telco users organisation needs $400,000 to survive another year

The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ) may fold within a month, unless more of its members renew their annual subscription fees.

CEO Paul Brislen says the organisation that has represented telco end-users for 26 years is at a “make or break” position. Unless it receives $400,000 in membership fees, it may not survive the year.

“Any less than that ($400,000) then we really can’t do much. Predominantly that’s paying for me, travel, and for support services. The travel is really just from here (Auckland) to Wellington and back.”

He says with the funding TUANZ would improve its website, seeking to make it a hub for discussions on “all things telecommunications”. The organisation would also have the resources to provide input around such issues as the use of the 700MHz spectrum, improving rural broadband services, and tackling content and copyright issues.

Membership renewals reminders go out every year in April, but it is not until mid-July that the organisation will know if it has enough funding to continue for another year. Brislen says the organisation has to date collected around $250,000 in fees.

In his weekly email letter to TUANZ members on Friday, Brislen said there is a “strong possibility” the organisation will fold. “Our budgets are at an all time low and there’s not a lot else to cut. We are totally reliant on membership fees to keep us going,” he wrote.

“So I urge you all, if you haven’t already paid your fees, please do as soon as possible. Conversely if you’re not going to re-join, let us know as soon as possible so we can work out where we stand.”

Brislen told Computerworld that Chorus is not a member of TUANZ, but that Vodafone has signed up. Many government departments have also not renewed their memberships, citing budget cuts, but others, such as Te Puni Kokiri, have signed up.

Earlier this year several staff members were made redundant and the TUANZ office in Takapuna was closed. Brislen now works from home, where his family have effectively become guardians of the organisation’s heritage.

“My basement is full of the TUANZ archive, there are cardboard boxes for Africa and I can’t get in to change the light bulb at the back, so a little bit of a problem. I’m happy to retain all of that because it’s a good solid history going back 26 years now,” Brislen says.

TUANZ board members include its chair Pat O’Connell who is CIO of Rank Group, treasurer Kevin Drinkwater, CIO at Mainfrieght, and secretary Doug Wilson, CIO of Automobile Association.

Earlier this year the organisation asked for funding from InternetNZ for a research unit but this was turned down. It has also tried to form partnerships with the Ministry of Economic Development and is currently talking with the Telecommunications Carriers Forum about reviving the TUANZ Innovation Awards.

In meantime Brislen says he will spend the next two weeks on the phone talking to members, urging them to pay their fees.

Tags TUANZ

8 Comments

Telco Guru

1

In the end TUANZ is a victim of it's own success,now is enough competition in the Telco market.
The times are tough in the ICT and lots of companies are struggling to pay wages and cover costs I will love my company to make 250k per individual.
Good Luck

Anonymous

2

Perhaps this is a good thing. There are too many IT industry lobby groups in NZ, and they're all too small to be effective. Why don't a few of them actually merge and create something with sufficient critical mass to actually make a difference?

Thoughtful

3

A couple of years ago wasn't TUANZ a very visible lobby group running many events, with a respectable sized staff?

How suddenly has this changed - for how many years has it run a deficit?

How come in such a short time its fallen on the bones of its bum, and is pathetically bleating for money? (Its email to members sounds like an abject admission of failure - very poor judgement to demean itself with a communication like that.)

Why has the Board not called an annual general meeting this year? If the situation is so dire wouldn't you expect them to do this, or even call a special general meeting so the members could express a view on the way forward? Has there been any explanation from the Chairman or Secretary why the AGM has been delayed?

Does the Board have the constitutional right to shut TUANZ down without consulting the members?

Doesn't that absence of communication show the Board as deficient in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities to the members?

As an incorporated society TUANZ is owned not by its CEO but by its members. Governance is the responsibility of its elected Board. Isn't it time the Chairman and Board fronted up to the members and stakeholders, instead of hanging out its CEO to cop the flack?

How can a one man operation operating from somebody's home possibly cost $400k a year to run?

Finally, who will put these questions to the Chairman?

Anonymous

4

In a country as small as New Zealand, is there really any need for TUANZ, TCF and CommComm? Losing TUANZ would surely mean that someone like the TCF will just pick up the loose strands from TUANZ.

Anonymous

5

I know a little about the industry. The role of TUANZ has changed - Paul is one of the best in the industry with no question but the role of TUANZ needs to change - lobbying is no longer key (there is less to lobby on). TUANZ really should be focussed on more education, where possible - issues such as fibre demand or new technologies emerging are key both to educate members but also for a continuing role in the industry. A new discussion website might work - but why not talk with Maurico about a mini site - cheaper and easier. Good luck Paul.

Will Maxwell-Steele

6

Considering in 2011 when they had 5+ staff the "pay to employees" was about $416,000, I doubt Paul's salary is even very high in to the 6 digits, if not even in the 5 digits.

Zoonza

7

Sorry to be blunt but you've been creaming it on a fat 6-figure salary for some time now, Paul...time to go and get a real job in IT, just like the rest of us.
It may come as rude awakening initially to a person who's been on 'working from home' engagement for so long, but the change is good.

Comsfreak

8

Sorry to hear this but it's hard to show much sympathy at these particularly tough times. The IT in NZ has been decimated in recent years with even the skilled and talented found themselves laid off for one reason or another. The god ones found new jobs relatively easy, so if the current TUANZ chief is as talented as some portray his as - he will have no problem finding an alternative employment, albeit with a lower pay packet attached to the new role.

Computerworld has also done a great disservice to Paul with sensationalist headlines and statements emphasising the amount the business requires to run and survive. Shame on you.

On the other hand, I agree with others - $400k for a one-person business run from non-business address is over the top, and Paul will not get much sympathy from many including myself, in that 'department'.

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