TUANZ is going to take a more vigorous and even aggressive stance in future, says new CEO Ernie Newman.
Newman has taken on a struggling organisation. Membership figures, though stable, are low and funding was withdrawn by one of the association’s biggest sponsors, Telecom, 18 months ago. It’s annual conference, which was to run as part of Computerworld Expo, is to be postponed till next year.
After six weeks in this new job, Newman is optimistic that he will be able to increase membership, improve the standing of TUANZ as a lobby group on commercial and legislative issues, and even welcome Telecom back into the fold. “Telecom is a major player and there’s no reason, from our point of view, why they shouldn’t be involved.” Newman also hopes to move the association to self-funding from membership subscriptions so it can reduce its dependence on sponsors.
In the meantime, membership sits at 446, including six carriers. “I haven’t done much yet specifically to build membership, but then there are areas I have to tidy up first,” he says. “We need to have a good networking programme and we need to put more energy into the representation of our members. I’ve been going round visiting and talking to members to get a feel for what they want — and we have to earn our money. They join us because of the ways we can help them, so we have to focus on that.”
TUANZ’s basic objective, he says, “is the facilitation of a highly competitive tele-communications market, and there’s a long way to go before we achieve that. It’s going to take a far more vigorous and even aggressive stance from us.” The association has made submissions on the cellular spectrum auction to be held this year and on the draft agreement on number portability administration signed by Telecom, Telstra, Vodafone, Newcall and Teamtalk.
The cellular auction must have rules in place to ensure no one player can buy up all available spectrum, says Newman, and the number portability agreement is “anti-competitive” as it stands. “We’ve given some changes which we feel need to be made. A definite timeframe must be set down for each stage, consumer representation has to have access to the management board, even if just as an observer, and the confidentiality clause has to be changed.”
A monthly “After 5” meeting will bring members together while lunchtime “Impact” sessions will allow some “blue skies” thinking.