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Michael Thawley Edit Profile

Michael Joseph Thawley AO is a senior Australian public servant.


Thawley was born in 1950, and educated at Geelong Grammar School and then at the Australian National University.


Bachelor with honors, Australian National University, 1971. Postgraduate diploma in Russian, Surrey University, England, 1980.


He is currently Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, a position he will relinquish in January, 2016. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1972. There he held various posts including Head of the Papua New Guinea and New Zealand bureaus.

Head of Current Intelligence at the Office of National Assessments. Minister at the Australian Embassy, Tokyo. Head of the International Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

He was the International Advisor to Prime Minister John Howard, between 1996 and 1999. From 2000 to 2005, Michael Thawley was Australian Ambassador to the United States of America. While Thawley was in the role, the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement was established, ensuring greater access to the US market for Australian products.

When he left the post, US President George Bush hosted a farewell reception for him in the Oval Office, and dignitaries including US Vice President Dick Cheney, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfield and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended. In October 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Thawley had been appointed Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, commencing 1 December 2014. According to media, his brief entering into the role was to concentrate on the Australian Government's economic agenda, and to give more structure and form to coordinate the budgetary implications, across all Australian Government departments, of Coalition Government promises and what the Labor Party blocks in Parliament.

It was also noted that he could "bring fresh energy to the urgent task of rebuilding relationships between the public service and the political branch." He announced on 24 November 2015 that he would be standing down from the position in January 2016.


He was a Senior Vice President and International Advisor at Capital Strategy Research Inc. He was also a board member of the Lowy Institute for International Policy.


  • Other Interests

    Reading, music, gardening.


Married Deborah Wilkins. Children: Samuel, Thomas, Cosimo.