Michael Coutts-Trotter

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Michael Coutts-Trotter
Michael Coutts-Trotter speaking at an event.jpg
Alma mater University of Technology, Sydney
Occupation Public servant
Employer New South Wales Government
Organization Department of Family and Community Services
Spouse(s) Tanya Plibersek MP

Michael Coutts-Trotter, an Australian public servant, is the Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services, since July 2013.


Coutts-Trotter matriculated from Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview and the University of Technology, Sydney, with a degree in journalism.[1]

Coutts-Trotter was appointed Director-General of the New South Wales Department of Education and Training in April 2007. He was director-general of the NSW Department of Commerce from 2004 to 2007, and chief of staff to the New South Wales Treasurer from 1998 to 2004. His appointment to lead the Department of Education and Training was criticised by opposition members of Parliament, the NSW Teachers Federation and the Public Principals Forum for his lack of experience in teaching and education.[2] The Teachers Federation also questioned his criminal background;[1] with the Federation's president, Maree O'Halloran, saying that a teacher with his background would be unable to continue teaching.

Appointing him as Director-General of the Department of Finance and Services in April 2011, the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said that Coutts-Trotter's skills would allow this new department to deliver on its results.[3] It was reported in July 2013, upon his appointment to lead the Department of Family and Community Services, that Coutts-Trotter's new role was a demotion.[4] Following the report the NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell held a media conference to reject the suggestion.

In 2013, Coutts-Trotter was made a national fellow of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1986, at the age of 21, he was imprisoned on a nine-year sentence for conspiracy to import narcotics. At the time he was a heroin dealer . He recovered from his addiction through a Salvation Army program.[1] He told the media in April 2007 that his criminal past made him more determined to do a good job.[2]

Coutts-Trotter is married to Tanya Plibersek MP, a Labor politician and the federal Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


  1. ^ a b c Welch, Dylan; Patty, Anna (11 April 2007). "Give me a chance: schools' chief". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "New schools' boss defends criminal past". ABC News (Australia). 11 April 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2007. 
  3. ^ "O'Farrell puts stamp on public service". The Australian. AAP. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Bashan, Yoni; Clennel, Andrew (18 July 2013). "NSW finance minister Greg Pearce's director-general Michael Coutts Trotter demoted in major reshuffle". The Daily Telegraph (Australia). Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Institute of Public Administration of Australia