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Biography Phil Goff

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Phil Goff Phil Goff
Phil Goff
The current Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Mount Roskill.


Phil Goff Biography



Philip Bruce Goff (born 22 June 1953) is the Member of the New Zealand Parliament for Mount Roskill. During the Fifth Labour Government, in office from 1999 to 2008, he served in a number of ministerial portfolios, including Minister of Defence of New Zealand, Minister of Corrections, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Finance. He served as Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party between 11 November 2008 and 13 December 2011.


Political career

Goff had joined the Labour Party in 1969, the same year he left home, and held a number of administrative positions within the party. In the 1981 elections, Goff stood for Parliament in the Roskill electorate, and was elected.


Three years later, when Labour won the 1984 elections, Goff was elevated to Cabinet, becoming its youngest member. He served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Employment. After the 1987 elections, Goff dropped the Housing portfolio, but also became Minister of Youth Affairs and Minister of Tourism. Later, after a significant rearrangement of responsibilities, Goff became Minister of Education. In the disputes between Roger Douglas (the reformist Finance Minister) and other Labour MPs, Goff generally positioned himself on the side of Douglas, supporting deregulation and free trade.


In the 1990 elections, Labour was defeated, and Goff lost his own parliamentary seat to Gilbert Myles. In the 1993 elections, Goff was re-elected as MP for Roskill. Helen Clark, Labour's new leader, made him the party's spokesperson for Justice. In 1996, Goff was part of the group which asked Clark to step down as leader. Clark survived the challenge, and was advised by her allies to demote Goff, but chose not to do so. Goff retained his seat in the 1996 elections, having elected not to be placed on Labour's party list. In Opposition from 1996 to 1999, Goff was Labour's spokesman on Justice, Courts & Corrections.


Following the 2005 elections Rt Hon. Winston Peters was made Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Goff was made Minister of Defence and Disarmament and retained the Trade portfolio. Goff became one of the better known members of the Labour Party, being number four on the Labour Party list during the 2008 General Election. Clark and Goff differed substantially in their economic policies, but they were able to work relatively well together, and this was shown during Goff's signing of the New Zealand – China free trade agreement. At the 2008 election Labour was defeated, and Clark resigned as leader. Goff was widely tipped as her successor. Goff became leader after a special caucus meeting on 11 November 2008.


Goff will become the third Labour leader, the first since the ousting of Arnold Nordmeyer in 1965, to leave the Labour Party leadership without ever becoming Prime Minister. Goff is also the first Labour leader who was not a former Prime Minister to have led Labour as a first term Opposition party at an election since Nordmeyer in 1963.




updated: 2013-09-10

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