Michael Coutts-Trotter

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Michael Coutts-Trotter
Michael Coutts-Trotter speaking at an event.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Technology, Sydney
OccupationPublic servant
EmployerNew South Wales Government
OrganizationDepartment of Justice
Spouse(s)Tanya Plibersek MP
ChildrenAnna, Joe and Louis

Michael Coutts-Trotter is an Australian public servant who is the current Secretary (director-general) of the New South Wales Department of Justice. He was previously the director-general of the Departments of Education and Training and Finance and Services. Coutts-Trotter served almost three years of 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.[2] In 1986, he received a nine-year prison sentence as a heroin dealer and addict. He served two years and nine months in jail before parole in 1988.[1][2] He graduated from the University of Technology Sydney with a degree in communications in 1995.[1]

Public service career[edit]

In April 2007, Coutts-Trotter was appointed Director-General of the NSW Department of Education and Training. This appointment 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 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 Australia.[6]

In April 2019 Coutts-Trotter was announced as the new head of the (NSW) Department of Justice[7] after Andrew Cappie-Wood left that position.[8]

Personal life[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c d "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. ^ "Prestigious awards ceremony celebrates the work of outstanding public administrators" (PDF). Institute of Public Administration Australia. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  7. ^ Hadley, Ray (2 April 2019). "Ray Hadley supports convicted criminal appointed Secretary of Justice". 2GB. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Retirement of Andrew Cappie-Wood". Department of Justice, Government of New South Wales. 31 March 2019.