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
Children Anna, Joe and Louis

Michael Coutts-Trotter is an Australian public servant who is the current director-general of the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services. He was previously the director-general of the Departments of Education and Training and Finance and Services. Coutts-Trotter was given a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted for the importation and distribution of heroin into Australia in 1986.[1]

Early life[edit]

Coutts-Trotter matriculated from Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview and the University of Technology, Sydney, with a degree in journalism.[2] In 1986, he was given a nine-year prison sentence after being convicted for the importation and distribution of heroin into Australia in 1986.[1] At the time he was a heroin dealer and addict.[2]

Coutts-Trotter is married to Tanya Plibersek, a federal MP and deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party.[1]

Public service career[edit]

In April 2007, Coutts-Trotter was controversially appointed Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and Training. This appointment was criticized by opposition members of parliament, the NSW Teachers Federation and the Public Principals Forum for his lack of experience in teaching and education and his criminal conviction as a heroin trafficker.[3]

The Teachers Federation also questioned his criminal past and time spent in prison for heroin dealing; with the Federation's president, Maree O'Halloran, saying that a teacher with his criminal conviction for a serious drug offence would be unable to continue teaching and working with children.[2]

Appointing him as Director-General of the Department of Finance and Services in April 2011, Premier Barry O'Farrell said that Coutts-Trotter's skills would allow this new department to deliver on its results.[4] 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.[5] Following the report 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.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Tanya Plibersek on her brother's death and husband's drug addiction". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 February 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Welch, Dylan; Patty, Anna (11 April 2007). "Give me a chance: schools' chief". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2007.
  3. ^ "New schools' boss defends criminal past". ABC News. Australia. 11 April 2007. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
  4. ^ "O'Farrell puts stamp on public service". The Australian. AAP. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Institute of Public Administration of Australia