Issue 15
Monday, 11 September 2017
Charles Darwin University
University Fellow Dr Don Zoellner
University Fellow Dr Don Zoellner

Who gets the money and why?

By Patrick Nelson

University Fellow Dr Don Zoellner will reveal “the story behind the story” of his new book at an author talk hosted by the Alice Springs campus library tomorrow evening.

In the book, which traces the history of vocational training in the Northern Territory, Dr Zoellner likens the behaviour of government ministers to that of wealthy philanthropists.

“Northern Territory ministers each year determine how to redistribute the $100-million-plus Vocational Education and Training budget to organisations and individuals,” Dr Zoellner said.

“We have unprecedented access to the political processes here in the Northern Territory, and to the ministers of government, senior public servants and to industry leaders, which allowed for novel explanations of their behaviour to be researched. 

“I found that the motives driving ministerial behaviour were affected by factors such as the nature of their character, political circumstance and sometimes personal preference.”

Dr Zoellner described his book, “Vocational Education and Training: The Northern Territory’s history of public philanthropy”, as a balancing act that draws together the widely scattered elements of the history of VET in the NT.

“It’s somewhat reminiscent of one of those circus performers with a series of plates spinning on the top of sticks,” he said.

“A history of Vocational Education and Training simultaneously serves to tell some of the Territory’s broader story.”

Dr Zoellner said he hoped the book would stimulate debate in order to create the potential for better policy in the future.

Author Talk by Dr Don Zoellner: Tuesday 12 September, 5-6pm, Alice Springs Campus library, 8959 5235 or