Phil Goff

November 30th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

As expected, resigned yesterday, effective in mid December.

Despite the result, Goff ran a reasonably strong campaign and more than one person commented to me that they are unsure that any of his likely replacements will be a better campaigner. However it is the right decision that he goes, because at the end of the day I don’t think someone who entered Parliament in 1981 would ever be able to convince New Zealanders they are the future. His longevity was the one thing he could not reinvent.

Being Leader of the Opposition is the worst job in politics. Goff struggled at it, as most MPs have. The only MP I can recall who excelled at it was Muldoon. McClay, Bolger and Clark  all struggled in the role. Bolger and Clark went on to be competent Prime Ministers, and Goff would also have been competent if he had been elected. However he achieves the unwanted record of being the only Labour Party Leader in the last 46 years, not to have made Prime Minister.

Goff’s legacy is that of a high achieving Minister. He made some good changes to the tertiary education system in the 1980s, and performed extremely well as Foreign and Trade Minister under Clark. The Free Trade Agreement with China is his greatest achievement, not made easier by the opposition of the then Foreign Minister to it.

In the fullness of time, I think it would be appropriate for the Government to offer him some sort of role. Possibilities are:

  • Ambassador to the US (once Moore term ends)
  • Ambassador to China (to build on FTA)
  • Deputy Administrator of the UNDP (okay, just kidding)
  • Ambassador to the WTO

Phil Goff spent 30 years trying to make New Zealand a better place. I disagreed with many of his policies, but respect his intentions and contribution. I hope he has a successful career outside Parliament, whether that commences in 2014, or before.

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46 Responses to “Phil Goff”

  1. Ross Nixon (559 comments) says:

    Ambassador to Gaza? He seems to like arab terrorists; or was that a naive mistake?

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  2. Tautaioleua (305 comments) says:

    :D

    Given that Clark and Co were instrumental in the successful negotiations with the Chinese F.T.A, it probably makes more sense to give him the Chinese appointment.

    The improvement of US relations is a product of the National Party.

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  3. patrickm (2 comments) says:

    The same Phil Goff that once upon a time proposed lowering the age of sexual consent to 12? Most would call that paedophillia

    This bloke has spent a lifetime sucking on the public teat & needs to be cut adrift, he will not suffer as he will have a pension fund stacked a mile high.

    [DPF: Goff did not propose lowering the age of consent to 12 for relations between adults and teenagers. He proposed that for those aged between 12 and 16, sex with someone of the same age (within two years) not be a criminal offence. This is effectively the de facto law as you never see two 15 year olds prosecuted for having sex with each other, but a 30 year old and a 15 year old are]

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  4. Pete George (23,560 comments) says:

    Goff said he will serve his term, as he should do, he campaigned in Roskill to serve them for three years so that’s what he should do, and by the sound of things he will.

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  5. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    Mr Goff ran a good campaign, staying on message.
    It is a pity that the other members of the Labour caucus were invisible.

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  6. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    I want to know what a backbencher does for 60 hours a week.

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  7. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    I’m not sure that Phil should’ve given up now. He has built a better profile and got a good run going. New Zealand has a long history of PMs who lost the first time they tried – Clark, Bolger, Kirk, and Holyoake.

    None of the new crop are very inspiring, at least Goff had built a profile and run a better campaign than Nationals.

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  8. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    It’s impossible to disagree with Goff’s beliefs, because after a career of thirty years, we are still not sure what any of them are.

    Good luck to him anyway.

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  9. Nostalgia-NZ (5,202 comments) says:

    He did run a fairly sound campaign particularly when he probably accepted he was on a hiding to nothing. I wonder about his walk, he seemed to have developed a different style of walking almost a swagger – either that or I hadn’t noticed it earlier, might have been some body image advice to make him appear more youthful and which instead made him look like he just hopped off his horse.

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  10. burt (8,269 comments) says:

    Considering the political arm of the unions got more support in the election than the unions generally get in the work place I guess Goff did pretty well. Must be hard trying to sell 1930’s mentality – I wonder what makes them persist….

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  11. niggly (830 comments) says:

    Post-politics (and if it were up to me) I wouldn’t offer Goff anything cushy to do with NZ-US relations, he’s one of the 80’s mob that screwed up the NZ-US relationship and carried on the rhetoric in later years when it suited him. Another reason is that Goff was quite two-faced on issues, including lying, thus his credibility is zilch in my eyes. We can’t have someone with zilch credibility (due to consistent lying and flip-flopping on issues) in these overseas roles. He has reaped what he has sown, let that be a lesson to others in Labour.

    Look I think Goff has done enough for the Labour Party (he has served them well), and I suggest he have a tranquil retirement with his wife at their farmlet and get away from the toxic political environment.

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  12. alwyn (424 comments) says:

    What an appropriate background to the photo of Goff and King on the front page of the Dom/Post today.
    The photo shows Phil and Annette walking towards a large rubbish bin.

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  13. EverlastingFire (286 comments) says:

    30 years of sucking on the public tit. How sad. Just goes to show, no matter how long someone sits in parliament it doesn’t make them any better a politician.

    Given that, I think Goff actually thought he was doing right. Too bad he was almost always wrong.

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  14. JamesS (352 comments) says:

    Goff always seemed a nice enough guy I suppose.

    I always thought it a bit cynical he was Minister of Defence considering he supports Palestine and once raised the viet cong flag at Auckland Uni – ie: he openly backs those seeking to kill our Defence forces.

    Thank goodness Helen never made him Finance Minister; Goff bought his lifestyle block in 1990 for a pittance, in the intervening years has earnt vast sums of money as a politician (in the millions!), yet still has a mortgage on the property.
    On the other hand with clearly no head for business and no ability to live within his means perhaps he would have been the perfect Labour finance minister.

    He also has some very special talents; he must have to lose an election to Gilbert Myles (which takes some doing!)

    I wish him well.

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  15. big bruv (13,888 comments) says:

    Why is it that we think ex pollies need some sort of cushy overseas posting when they lose their job?

    They are no bloody different to the rest of us, when things change (and they do for most of us) we have to tighten our belts and play with the cards we are dealt.

    Fuck Goff, he can be a back bencher or he can take his chances in the work force with the rest of us.

    The tax payer owes him nothing, he has had his hand in our pocket for 30 years, if he has not secured his future by now then that is his problem.

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  16. 3-coil (1,220 comments) says:

    I don’t know about the quality of his service to the taxpayers over 30 years, but the last 3 years have been marred by his flip-flop faux morality, lies and dishonesty, and general oafish incompetence. He showed himself to be full of shit, like so many of his Labour cronies – maybe not as bad as Trev Mallard and others, but I’d still be embarrassed to have him representing our country.

    Go and (try to) stand on your own two feet Phil, instead of sucking off the taxpayer. Do something constructive for a change – or is that too much to expect?

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  17. Pete George (23,560 comments) says:

    I think Goff was generally a competent MP but he didn’t manage to lead Labour successfully as is obvious by his party going backwards during his tenure.

    I also don’t think he had a good campaign. Sure he improved over the course of the campaign, but that was relative. He was still reciting overworn and misguided policy phrases to the end of the campaign. And I remember him in the last day or two totally misrepresenting National’s assets policy including extreme scaremongering which was frankly bullshit.

    He was let down by his party but he didn’t lead it to success, he didn’t lead it well, and while he mostly managed the debates ok his campaigning was not good.

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  18. Archer (208 comments) says:

    @ JamesS 8.49am

    Maybe he only has a mortgage on his lifestyle block because he borrowed against it to invest in the sharemarket…

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  19. TMC (75 comments) says:

    “The only MP I can recall who excelled at it was Muldoon. McClay, Bolger and Clark all struggled in the role.”

    What about Key? I’d say he did ok.

    Also, I realise people are trying to do the feel good NZ thing and send him off well…but how do you call a campaign that resulted in such a defeat ‘good’ or ‘strong’? It was mostly based on half truths, lacked cohesion and at times seemed obviously desperate. Or by strong do we mean he was able to make lots of noise. He did that.

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  20. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    Pete: His popularity increased as the campaign went on, so I think that as far as “Labour the party”‘s campaign went it was very much Goff pushing that (somewhat ironic given that Goff wasn’t featured on their hoardings). The rest of his caucus were mostly absent, and when they were around were not supportive – particularly those currently gunning for leadership. I don’t think it was a case of their policies not resonating with the community – my feeling was it was due to “things are going along OK, why bother changing it?” I do agree that some of Goff’s earlier screwups (SIS, Hughes) did not help.

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  21. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    “I hope he has a successful career outside Parliament”.

    I agree with you DPF. I do hope he has a successful career outside of Parliament. Perhaps he could get a job in the private sector. He has had more than enough time having his wages funded by the taxpayer. I also think some real-world experience in the business sector would do him the world of good!

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  22. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    One can’t dislike him just because he was incompetent and an idiot.

    But he remains a bare-faced serial liar who spent his life in Parliament doing and saying whatever it took for him to remain there for the sake of it without any goal in mind that would benefit this country. Look no further than the unreconcilable positions he adopted on various issues over the course of his so-called career.

    He presided over an election campaign that relied on calculated lies, deliberate distortions and misrepresentations and dishonest fear tactics that included targeting the vulnerable. That is his legacy.

    So I don’t wish him well. I wish him good riddance. And a pox upon his low-life colleagues of the same ilk.

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  23. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    He is no threat in opposition so does not need to be bought off with yet another plum job.
    He badly miscalculated his campaign. He and Trevor Mallard (where is he by the way? very silent) decided to run a nasty campaign based on opportunistic policies and personal attacks. I always respected Phil but not after he called John Key a liar, over and over. His campaign went downhill from there and he got the thrashing he deserved.
    Let him draw his not inconsiderable salary for another three years and then he should bugger off, let the highlights grow out of his hair, stop the Botox and go back to walking like a normal person. He was never a leader and should have stuck to deputy roles.

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  24. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    At what stage can we expect the architect of this failed, ill directed campaign, to also resign?

    Trevor Mallard was clearly the person behind the personal attacks / the lies / the innuendo and the decision to base the Labour campaign on total misinformation, so given the electorate’s total rejection of these tactics, when can we expect him to follow the same path as Goff and King?

    It hasn’t been aired much to date, but IMO, Mallard has to accept much of the blame for Labour’s dismal polling. His campaign tactics fell well short of the mark and were a very large reason why Labour has polled at its lowest levels for several decades.

    The fact that Mallard has totally gone to ground, says it all. He was ill-equipped to manage their campaign and has proven yet again that he is totally out of his depth when it comes to any matters of substance.

    This campaign has just added another grubby stain to Mallard’s CV of mediocrity.

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  25. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    I think Goff will look back and think “i sold out. i was leader and i had an opportunity to make the party great again. i could have fought the far left factions, all the weird factions and taken the labour party back to its roots. but nup, i betrayed everything i believe in and tried to sell that turd to the public. i am a disgrace. i also live in a shack which is weird considering im multi…”

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  26. backster (2,171 comments) says:

    Perhaps he can return to what he is always boasting was his first job at the Freezing Works…Though even that was a lie, his first job was as a cellar filing clerk for an Insurance Company. My mate was one of his bosses.
    I agree with others these slushy retirement jobs for ex politicians should cease. There are plenty of more competent people who could fill most of them. At the very least they should be advertised and the best candidate chosen.

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  27. XChequer (298 comments) says:

    Phil Gap finally “shot the”, eh?

    Not before time

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  28. Random Punter (72 comments) says:

    A new job for Phil?

    How about Minister of Silly Walks.

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  29. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    What a sad lot of commenters. You accuse Mallard (rightly) of being nasty and then proceed to be the same. Look at yourselves.

    Ambassador to Gaza? He seems to like arab terrorists; or was that a naive mistake?
    Tautaioleua (8) Says:
    November 29th, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    :D

    Given that Clark and Co were instrumental in the successful negotiations with the Chinese F.T.A, it probably makes more sense to give him the Chinese appointment.

    The improvement of US relations is a product of the National Party.

    Blatant Lie
    Winston was the person who retrieved those relationships. Is your memory that bad you can’t recall his dalliance with Condalisa Rice during the Clark years?

    Fuck some of you are nasty.

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  30. big bruv (13,888 comments) says:

    V2

    The Yanks are like the vast majority of Kiwis. They think Winston was a bloody joke.

    To suggest that Winston had anything to do with improving relations between the USA and NZ is bullshit. The work would have been done by back room diplomats, Winston (as many others have said about the man) is not interested in detail, he would arrive there, shake hands and then go off and start socialising leaving the real work to others.

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  31. Richard Hurst (857 comments) says:

    Well he won’t have to dye his hair anymore or put up with the constant betrayal, back stabbing and undermining of his leadership which is all he really got from the rest of the party. Poor bastard.

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  32. KevinH (1,227 comments) says:

    In the latter stages of the campaign Goff performed well and looked every inch the leader of the Labour Party, he exhibited verve and determination that he could of carried through with if only he had the support of his colleagues. His tenure in the job was troubled by scandals ie Carter and Hughes therefore making it difficult for him to gain momentum, however it was widely percieved that his role was only temporary in the rebuilding of Labour post Helen Clark, of which he really never fully accomplished.
    Phil goff’s decision to stay on and represent Mt Roskill does indicate that he feels he has more to contribute and that his career in the Labour Party is not yet over, perhaps he feels his job is not yet done.
    Phil Goff is a very experienced politician who can contribute significantly in a post parliamentary career as a diplomat, in much the same vein as Jonathan Hunt with perhaps a posting to London been ideally suited to him. Phil does have that element of Tony Blair in his makeup therefore a posting to London would be a good fit for him and a position more politically suited to his skills and talents.

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  33. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    “What a sad lot of commenters. You accuse Mallard (rightly) of being nasty and then proceed to be the same. Look at yourselves.”

    and of course there is no difference between an elected member of parliament and former government minister and some dudes commenting on a blog.

    the world doesnt work that way. Just like this weekend when Dime falls out of a brothel at 3am, no ones gonna care… if an MP does it, it may become an issue.

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  34. adc (595 comments) says:

    Labour seems completely screwed now to me.

    Unless they can convince basically all their MPs to resign this year, they won’t be able to rebuild. people are sick of them all, they’ve been around too long.

    If Cunliffe gets the leader job, Labour will go down even further in the polls… as for Mr smarmy Parker…

    I doubt they will do it, so I predict even more ignominy for Labour at the next election. I wonder if all the Labour “talent” that got pushed off the bottom of the list will flock to the greens.

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  35. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    dime

    What happened to the new Mrs dime? :(

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  36. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    dime says: “Just like this weekend when Dime falls out of a brothel at 3am, no ones gonna care…”:

    What happened to the new gf?

    [Edit: @thedavincimode - Snap!]

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  37. BeaB (2,123 comments) says:

    Viking2
    You are an example to us all.

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  38. Pete George (23,560 comments) says:

    In the latter stages of the campaign Goff performed well and looked every inch the leader of the Labour Party,

    If you mean full of slogans, distortions and lies then yes, you’re right.

    His new talking point on this stop was a claim that if National won an absolute majority on Saturday, they would not stop at selling off 49 per cent of the assets and instead hock off the lot.

    “I reckon, if they get an absolute majority, they’ll sell the lot and they’ll sell it in short time,” Goff said.

    “We’ll see a mortgagee sale on this dam.”

    “If John Key gets the absolute power he’s asking for, he’ll sell the lot of them.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/campaign-trail/6027823/On-the-road-with-John-Key-and-Phil-Goff

    That was the day before the election.

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  39. JamesS (352 comments) says:

    The two Davids are delusional if they think they are well known to the general public. They are not.

    Parker has some sort of profile (not all of it good) in Dunedin/Otago and the Epsom electorate and Cunliffe in West Auckland; outside of these places they are unknown. Completely.
    Labour’s pollster should start phoning people in New Plymouth, Hastings, Timaru, Invercargill and Hamilton (or even Thorndon! ha ha) asking people if they have ever heard of these two clowns; I believe only 8% – 10% of people would say yes.

    These two have spent too much time in the Beltway in recent years being lionised by staffers and journalists and are in a false paradise of thinking that sort of thing translates to anything outside the beltway.

    Whomever takes over the Labour leadership in a couple of weeks it will not be worth much and never will for a very simple reason – they will never do a Don Brash.
    National had a similar election debacle in July 2002. For 18 months they were dead in the water. Brash takes over and makes the Orewa speech and support returned to National in a tidal wave and has remained with them ever since.

    Labour will never, ever, EVER make an Orewa speech – they consider themselves too precious and ‘above that sort of thing’.

    As such their support will probably never get much higher than it is now; I am sure they are saying to each other “National came back from 2002 and so can we” but they need to think ‘why’ National came back.

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  40. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    What’s the topic again? I can’t remember.

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  41. axeman (252 comments) says:

    “What’s the topic again? I can’t remember.”

    Well RRM we were discussing the abysmal result of Phil-in Goof at the election. Not only has he capped off his career with leading Labour to it’s worst ever result in elections since 1928 but it appears he is just the third Labour leader in history to fail to make it to Prime Minister.

    Reminds me of David Lange commenting that, in Samoa years ago, the Samoan PM said to Phil “FA’A GOFF”

    Finally he is taking the advice :-)

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  42. Tauhei Notts (1,712 comments) says:

    Only a nation of sheep would re elect Winston Peters.
    Labour is a high tax party.
    Therefore it is appropriate that an aspiring leader of a high tax party, trying to be in a position of our country’s leader, be named Sheerer.
    Much better than the dreadful sobriquet “Silent T”.

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  43. calendar girl (1,232 comments) says:

    Other members of the Wellington political fraternity probably think the same way as DPF does about finding / supporting cushy retirement jobs overseas for former political leaders. Out in ordinary New Zealand, I suspect that the majority of us react with revulsion at such self-serving back-scratching.

    Why can’t leading politicians turn their hand in political retirement to something creative or entrepreneurial, start a business, become a playwright, set up as a registered financial adviser …..? Are they afraid of the real world, of living off their own wits and skills like the rest of us?

    Sometimes I despair at the failure of our politicians to understand why they they are held in such poor regard.

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  44. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    Goff by all accounts was a well regarded and successful foreign relations/trade guy so he’d add value to NZ Inc carrying out that role again as an elder statesman.

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  45. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    The same Phil Goff that once upon a time proposed lowering the age of sexual consent to 12? Most would call that paedophillia

    Then most people would be wrong…as usual. A paedophile is someone with a sexual attraction to PRE-pubescent children…not healthy budding young people aged 12 to 16. For most of human history sex between teens and even between teens and older people (mainly male) was the accepted norm.

    What Goff advocated was sound and morally right….a teenage couple with a couple of years age difference should in no way face legal action for doing what has come naturally since time began. It seems pervy old conservative types can’t handle that fact…

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  46. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    calendar girl

    “Why can’t leading politicians turn their hand in political retirement … set up as a registered financial adviser ”

    ppffffffffffffffffffffffffttttttttttttttt.

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