June 11, 2020
There are plenty of .gov.au domain names around; but you won't see the usual registrars offering the extension as an option (for obvious reasons) - so how are these names registered and managed?
Gov.au is a “closed” domain, only available to Australian, state and local government bodies. Unlike other Australian domains such as .com.au, the gov.au namespace is managed by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), which has had this role since 2018. The DTA works in consultation with au Domain Administration (auDA) and also passes on data to Afilias, the .au registry operator.
The DTA administers domains at a federal government level and also for most states, with the exception on the Northern Territory (nt.gov.au) and Tasmania (tas.gov.au), which are handled by separate agencies within those respective states.
Applying for and administering a .gov.au name is carried out via DomainName.gov.au. While .gov.au operates with its own set of policies, some auDA policies also apply. auDA is the regulatory body for the .au namespace and sets policy for open second level domains including .com.au. In the case of .gov.au, each state or territory may also have additional policies.
The DTA manages .gov.au in consultation with an inter-jurisdictional Domain Consultative Committee comprised of representatives from each jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction has a "provider" with the delegated authority to assess individual domain name applications for that jurisdiction.
As for how many .gov.au domains exist, it was difficult to locate any statistics - they aren't included on auDA's registry reports that are published each month; which only show tallies for .com.au, .net.au, .org.au, .asn.au and .id.au.
Regardless of the number, .gov.au plays a very important role in Australian society, with government services increasingly moving to online delivery. While the internet has only really taken off in Australia in the last twenty years, it's hard to imagine there was ever a time when you couldn't perform tasks such as renewing a car registration online.
Other examples of "closed" domains include edu.au for educational institutions and org.au for charities and non-profit organisations. While .edu.au names can't be registered through our service, .org.au names can; assuming parties satisfy .org.au registration criteria.
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