Phil Goff

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Phil Goff
Mayor Phil Goff.jpg
Goff in 2018
2nd Mayor of Auckland
Assumed office
1 November 2016
DeputyBill Cashmore
Preceded byLen Brown
32nd Leader of the Opposition
In office
19 November 2008 – 13 December 2011
DeputyAnnette King
Preceded byJohn Key
Succeeded byDavid Shearer
13th Leader of the Labour Party
In office
11 November 2008 – 13 December 2011
DeputyAnnette King
Preceded byHelen Clark
Succeeded byDavid Shearer
35th Minister of Defence
In office
19 October 2005 – 19 November 2008
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byMark Burton
Succeeded byWayne Mapp
25th Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
10 December 1999 – 19 October 2005
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byDon McKinnon
Succeeded byWinston Peters
43rd Minister of Justice
In office
10 December 1999 – 19 October 2005
Prime MinisterHelen Clark
Preceded byTony Ryall
Succeeded byMark Burton
37th Minister of Education
In office
14 August 1989 – 2 November 1990
Prime MinisterGeoffrey Palmer
Mike Moore
Preceded byGeoffrey Palmer
Succeeded byLockwood Smith
14th Minister of Housing
In office
26 July 1984 – 26 August 1987
Prime MinisterDavid Lange
Preceded byTony Friedlander
Succeeded byHelen Clark
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Mount Roskill
In office
27 November 1999 – 12 October 2016
Preceded byElectorate established
Succeeded byMichael Wood
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for New Lynn
In office
12 October 1996 – 27 November 1999
Preceded byJonathan Hunt
Succeeded byElectorate abolished
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Roskill
In office
6 November 1993 – 12 October 1996
Preceded byGilbert Myles
Succeeded byElectorate abolished
In office
28 November 1981 – 27 October 1990
Preceded byArthur Faulkner
Succeeded byGilbert Myles
Personal details
Philip Bruce Goff

(1953-06-22) 22 June 1953 (age 68)
Auckland, New Zealand
Political partyLabour
Mary Ellen Goff
(m. 1979)
ResidenceClevedon, Auckland

Philip Bruce Goff CNZM[1] (born 22 June 1953) is a New Zealand politician who has been the Mayor of Auckland since 2016. Previously, he was a Member of the New Zealand Parliament from 1981 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 2016. He served as Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition between 11 November 2008 and 13 December 2011.

During the Fifth Labour Government, in office from 1999 to 2008, Goff was a senior minister in a number of portfolios, including Minister of Justice, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister of Defence, and Associate Minister of Finance.[2] He was elected Mayor of Auckland in the October 2016 Auckland mayoral election, succeeding Len Brown, who stepped down after two terms.[3] In 2019, he was re-elected. He is also an advisory board member of the Global Panel Foundation Australasia.

Early life[edit]

Goff was born and raised in Auckland. His family was very poor, and his father wanted Goff to enter the workforce immediately after finishing high school. Goff, however, wished to attend university, a decision that caused him to leave home when only sixteen years old. By working at Westfield Freezing Works[4] and as a cleaner, Goff was able to fund himself through university, gaining an MA (with first class honours) in political studies at the University of Auckland.[5] In 1973, he was Senior Scholar in Political Studies, and also won the Butterworth Prize for law.[6] While completing his MA, he lectured in Political Studies. After his overseas experience in Europe Goff returned to New Zealand where he became an Insurance Workers Union organiser.[5]

Member of Parliament[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Years Term Electorate List Party
1981–1984 40th Roskill Labour
1984–1987 41st Roskill Labour
1987–1990 42nd Roskill Labour
1993–1996 44th Roskill Labour
1996–1999 45th New Lynn none Labour
1999–2002 46th Mount Roskill 7 Labour
2002–2005 47th Mount Roskill 6 Labour
2005–2008 48th Mount Roskill 6 Labour
2008–2011 49th Mount Roskill 3 Labour
2011–2014 50th Mount Roskill 1 Labour
2014–2016 51st Mount Roskill 16 Labour

Goff joined the Labour Party in 1969, the same year he left home, and held a number of administrative positions within the party. He was chairman of the Labour Youth Movement and was twice elected a member of the Labour Party's national council. Goff was also campaign chairman for Eddie Isbey in the Papatoetoe electorate.[7][8]

In early 1981 Goff put himself forward for the Labour candidacy for the Roskill electorate.[7] He beat 13 contenders (including Malcolm Douglas, Owen Greatbatch, Ken Hastings, Norman Kingsbury, Wayne Mapp and Lois Welch) to win the nomination on 23 April 1981. The next day he resigned his trade union job to be a candidate full-time.[8] In the 1981 elections, Goff was elected Member of Parliament for the Roskill electorate.[5] In 1983 he was appointed as Labour's spokesperson for housing.[9]

Cabinet minister: 1984–1990[edit]

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. As Minister of Housing Goff provided money to finance loans to households in dire financial situations and purchased state rental units.[10]

After the 1987 elections, Goff dropped the Housing portfolio, but also became Minister of Youth Affairs and Minister of Tourism.[11] 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.[12]

In opposition: 1990–1999[edit]

In the 1990 elections, Labour was defeated, and Goff lost his parliamentary seat to the National Party's Gilbert Myles. While many commentators blamed Douglas's controversial reforms for Labour's loss, Goff said that the main problem had been in communication, not policy. Goff was appointed to a position at the Auckland Institute of Technology, and later accepted a scholarship to study for six months at Oxford University.[13] Returning to New Zealand, he eventually decided to stand for parliament once again.

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.[14] 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.[15]

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 spokesperson on Justice, and Courts & Corrections.[16] After Mike Moore left Parliament to become Director-General of the World Trade Organization Goff also became the party's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs.[17]

Cabinet minister: 1999–2008[edit]

Goff and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates walk into the Pentagon, 11 May 2007.

In the 1999 elections, which Labour won, Goff accepted seventh place on the party list, but also retained his electorate seat. In Clark's new government, he became Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Minister of Justice. He retained this position after the 2002 elections. Following the 2005 elections Winston Peters was made Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Goff was made Minister of Defence and Disarmament and retained the Trade portfolio.[18]

In 2003 convicted rapist Stewart Murray Wilson doctored and distributed a letter from Justice Minister Goff, in an apparent attempt to get his case reviewed.[19] In 2005, as justice minister, Goff passed legislation that dramatically strengthened laws condemning child pornography and child sex.[20]

As Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Goff favoured free trade deals as a means of diplomacy and strengthening New Zealand's links with Asian neighbours.[21] Goff had a strong public profile and became one of the better-known members of the Labour Party; he was placed number three 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.[21]

Leader of the Opposition: 2008–2011[edit]

Goff at the Progressive Governance Conference 2009, at Viña del Mar, Chile

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 with former senior minister Annette King was elected as deputy leader.[22][23]

After initial strong popularity, Goff and Labour began to struggle in public opinion polls. A July 2011 poll showed support for the Labour Party at a 10-year low, at just 27%.[24] This followed a leaked policy proposal for a capital gains tax,[24] which the party's critics suggested was unpopular with the electorate. Polls in 2011 also showed an increase in support for the Green Party.

In an October 2010 speech, Goff emphasised the "Kiwi Dream" of high-wage jobs, home ownership and social protection. He criticised the National Government for free-market economic policies that Goff argued were accentuating inequality; he attributed social inequality to societal problems such as drug abuse and obesity.[25]

Both Goff and Prime Minister John Key said that they would not vote in the 2009 corporal punishment referendum. Goff said that the question "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" was "absolutely" the wrong question, and that "the question implies that if you vote 'yes' that you're in favour of criminal sanctions being taken against reasonable parents – actually nobody believes that."[26][27]

In John Key's Statement to Parliament in February 2010, the government announced its consideration of raising Goods and Services Tax from 12.5% to 15%.[28] Goff opposed the raise, saying that "GST increase will hurt families that are already struggling to make ends meet", and the Labour caucus set out on an 'Axe the Tax' nationwide road trip.[29][30] In May 2010 Goff suggested exempting fresh fruit and vegetables from GST.[31] Key called the exemption of such items "very bureaucratic" and Goff's announcement "desperate".[32]

In February 2010 a discussion document was released, proposing that 7,058 ha of land in national parks be opened up for mining.[33][34] Outside Parliament Goff told protesters that he and Labour would oppose the proposals "at every stage", and pledged to re-protect any land released from Schedule 4, should his party return to power.[35]

Parliamentary career after being leader: 2011–2016[edit]

Goff and his wife, Mary (left), with Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown (right) in September 2015

On 26 November 2011 the results of the general election were very poor for Labour, which lost 6.86% of the party vote and nine seats.[36] Phil Goff stated that this "wasn't our time this time ... but our time will come again ... we're a bit bloodied but not defeated."[37] Three days after conceding defeat Goff and his deputy, Annette King announced they would be standing down from their leadership positions on 13 December, but would stay on in Parliament as electorate MPs.[38] Goff became the fourth Labour leader, the first since the ousting of Arnold Nordmeyer in 1965, to leave the Labour Party leadership without ever becoming prime minister. Goff was succeeded as leader by David Shearer, who designated him Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs.[39]

Goff resigned from Parliament on 12 October 2016,[40] necessitating a by-election in his electorate of Mount Roskill.[41]

Mayor of Auckland: 2016–present[edit]

On 22 November 2015 Goff announced he would run for Mayor of Auckland in the 2016 mayoral election.[42] On 8 October 2016 Phil Goff won the election, becoming the second mayor of the Auckland 'super city'.

Goff was formally sworn in as Mayor of Auckland at a ceremonial event at the Auckland Town Hall on 1 November 2016. Upon taking office, he pledged to tackle social issues in Auckland, such as homelessness, so that "no one is left behind"; he also highlighted a need for improved infrastructure and housing availability in order to address the social issues.[43]

Goff has not yet stated if he will run for a third term as Mayor in 2022, although as planning to announce his decision at the start of 2022. There has been speculation that he will not run for re-election in order to be appointed as New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States.[44]

Proposed Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux speaking event[edit]

In early July 2018, Mayor Goff announced that the Auckland Council would not allow the far right Canadian activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux to use council premises on the grounds that they stirred up ethnic or religious tensions and promoted divisive views. Southern and Molyneux have drawn controversy in the past for their controversial views on feminism, gender, and Muslim immigration. The pair had booked the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland's North Shore for a talk on 3 August 2018. While the Auckland Peace Action activist group and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand had objected to Southern and Molyneux's planned talk, Goff's decision was criticised by the promoter David Pellowe and human rights lawyer Craig Tuck for violating free speech.[45][46] In addition, The Spinoff contributor and self-described agnostic Muslim Ali Shakir defended the Southern and Molyneux tour and disputed the FIANZ's claim to speak for all Muslims on this matter.[47] New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and National Party leader Simon Bridges said they would have supported her right to speak, while Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said she supported the ban.[48][49]

Libertarian politician Stephen Berry speaking at the Free Speech Coalition protest in defence of Southern and Molyneux, Auckland 2018[50]

In response to Goff's decision, a group calling themselves the "Free Speech Coalition" announced that it would be collecting funds for a judicial review of the decision to ban Southern and Molyneux from Council premises. This group consisted of several business leaders, academics, lawyers, and journalists including the former Labour President Michael Bassett, former National and ACT parties leader Don Brash, Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church, Auckland University of Technology historian Paul Moon, left-wing commentator Chris Trotter, and New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Jordan Williams.[51][52] Within 24 hours, the group had reached its initial fundraising target of NZ$50,000.[53][54]

On 18 July, Free Speech Coalition spokesperson David Cumin announced that the group had filed legal proceedings against Mayor Goff and the Auckland Council after a failed attempt to broker a deal with Goff and the council to reinstate the speaking event planned by Southern and Molyneux.[55][56][57] On 25 July, the Free Speech Coalition withdrew their proceedings against Mayor Goff but warned that further legal action could go ahead. Goff welcomed the development and reiterated his opposition to allowing Council facilities to host events promoting hate speech.[58] The Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway had earlier granted Southern and Molyneux a visa allowing them to visit New Zealand on the grounds that they had not violated any immigration character requirements.[59][60][61]

Serious Fraud Office investigation, 2020[edit]

In late February 2020, the Serious Fraud Office announced that it was investigating an election expanses declaration of cash donations from fundraising auctions of $366,115 filed by Goff during the 2016 mayoral election.[62][63]

Personal life[edit]

Phil Goff is married to Mary Ellen Goff, whom he met in 1971 and married in 1979. They have three adult children.[64] He lives on a 8-hectare (20-acre) farmlet in the rural Auckland suburb of Clevedon.[64] Goff's nephew, U.S. Army Captain Matthew Ferrara, was killed in 2007 during the Afghanistan War.[65]


In the 2017 New Year Honours, Goff was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM), for services as a member of parliament.[66][67]


  1. ^ Gower, Patrick (12 November 2008). "A Labour of love for new leader Phil Goff". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Ministerial List for Announcement on 31 October 2007" (Press release). New Zealand Government. 31 October 2007. Archived from the original (DOC) on 1 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Phil Goff elected Mayor of Auckland". 8 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Phil Goff - the careful rebel". The New Zealand Herald. 12 August 2011. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Candidate profile: Phil Goff". Newshub. 2 October 2011. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  6. ^ Watkins, Tracy (5 November 2011). "Two men, two lives, one job". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  7. ^ a b "More Join List of Hopefuls". The New Zealand Herald. 31 March 1981. p. 3.
  8. ^ a b "Fulltime job to be elected". Auckland Star. 24 April 1981. p. 3.
  9. ^ "Labour leader allocates responsibilities". The Press. 17 March 1983. p. 3.
  10. ^ Bassett 2008, p. 125.
  11. ^ Bassett 2008, p. 284.
  12. ^ Bassett 2008, p. 60.
  13. ^ Orsman, Bernard (1 November 2016). "Phil Goff officially sworn in as Mayor of Auckland". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  14. ^ "The Labour Shadow Cabinet". The Dominion. 14 December 1993. p. 2.
  15. ^ Edwards 2001, p. 249.
  16. ^ Boyd, Sarah (20 December 1996). "'Govt in waiting' announced". The Evening Post. p. 2.
  17. ^ "Sutton tipped for Labour trade post". The Dominion. 14 September 1999. p. 2.
  18. ^ New Zealand Government (19 October 2005). "Ministerial portfolios allocated". Retrieved 15 May 2021.
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  20. ^ "Goff makes further change to child porn penalties". The Beehive. 8 February 2005. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  21. ^ a b "Good news for free trade fans". 22 September 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
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  28. ^ Kay, Martin (9 February 2010). "GST could go up to 15 per cent". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  29. ^ Raman, Venkat (29 March 2010). "Lift in GST will trigger inflation". Indian Newslink. Retrieved 9 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
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  32. ^ Small, Vernon (7 May 2010). "Key pans idea of exempting food from GST". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  33. ^ Kay, Martin (22 March 2010). "Mining in conservation land – proposal". Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  34. ^ Armstrong, Grahame (28 March 2010). "Mining plans turn Nat voters off government". The Sunday Star-Times. Archived from the original on 30 March 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
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  44. ^
  45. ^ Hatton, Emma (6 July 2018). "Far-right pair banned from speaking at Auckland Council venues – Phil Goff". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
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  64. ^ a b Masters, Catherine (13 August 2011). "Phil Goff – the careful rebel". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  65. ^ "Funeral held for Phil Goff's nephew". The New Zealand Herald. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
  66. ^ "New Year Honours List 2017". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  67. ^ "Family really deserves the New Year's honour says political veteran Phil Goff". 31 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.


External links[edit]

New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Roskill

Succeeded by
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Constituency abolished
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Member of Parliament for New Lynn
Constituency recreated in 2002
Title next held by
David Cunliffe
New constituency Member of Parliament for Mount Roskill
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Party political offices
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Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party
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Political offices
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Mayor of Auckland
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Leader of the Opposition
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Minister of Corrections
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Minister of Defence
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Minister of Foreign Affairs
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Minister of Justice
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Minister of Education
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Minister of Tourism
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