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Phil Goff

Phil Goff

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Philip Bruce Goff is the current Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition (New Zealand)
The Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand is the politician who, at least in theory, commands the support of the non-government bloc of members in the New Zealand Parliament. In the debating chamber the Leader of the Opposition sits directly opposite the Prime Minister...

 and the Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party
New Zealand Labour Party
The New Zealand Labour Party is a New Zealand political party. It describes itself as centre-left and socially progressive and has been one of the two primary parties of New Zealand politics since 1935....

. During the Fifth Labour Government, he served in a number of ministerial portfolios, including Minister of Defence
Minister of Defence (New Zealand)
The Minister of Defence is a minister in the government of New Zealand with responsibility for the New Zealand armed forces and the Ministry of Defence.The present Minister is Dr...

 of New Zealand, Minister of Corrections, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Finance.

Early life


Goff was born and raised in Auckland. His family was relatively 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 as a freezing worker and a cleaner, Goff was able to fund himself through university, gaining an MA (with first class honours) in political studies
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 at the University of Auckland
University of Auckland
The University of Auckland is a university located in Auckland, New Zealand. It is the largest university in the country and the highest ranked in the 2011 QS World University Rankings, having been ranked worldwide...

. In 1973, he was Senior Scholar in Political Studies, and also won the Butterworth Prize for law. While completing his MA, he lectured in Political Studies. He also briefly worked as an Insurance Workers Union organiser.

Member of Parliament


Goff had joined the Labour Party
New Zealand Labour Party
The New Zealand Labour Party is a New Zealand political party. It describes itself as centre-left and socially progressive and has been one of the two primary parties of New Zealand politics since 1935....

 in 1969, the same year he left home, and held a number of administrative positions within the party. In the 1981 elections
New Zealand general election, 1981
The 1981 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 40th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Robert Muldoon, win a third term in office, although the opposition Labour Party, led by Bill Rowling, actually won the largest share of...

, Goff stood for Parliament in the Roskill
Roskill (New Zealand electorate)
Roskill was a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, from 1919 to 1996.-Population centres:The electorate is in the western suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand.-History:...

 electorate, and was elected.

Cabinet minister (1984–1990)


Three years later, when Labour won the 1984 elections
New Zealand general election, 1984
The 1984 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 41st New Zealand Parliament. It marked the beginning of the Fourth Labour Government, with David Lange's Labour Party defeating long-serving Prime Minister Robert Muldoon of the National Party. It was also the...

, Goff was elevated to Cabinet
New Zealand Cabinet
The Cabinet of New Zealand functions as the policy and decision-making body of the executive branch within the New Zealand government system...

, becoming its youngest member. He served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Employment. After the 1987 elections
New Zealand general election, 1987
The 1987 New Zealand general election was a nationwide vote to determine the shape of the 43rd sitting of the New Zealand Parliament. The governing New Zealand Labour Party, led by Prime Minister David Lange, was re-elected for a second term, although the Opposition National Party made gains...

, 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
Roger Douglas
Sir Roger Owen Douglas , is a New Zealand politician who formerly served as a senior New Zealand Labour Party Cabinet minister. He became arguably best-known for his prominent role in the radical economic restructuring undertaken by the Fourth Labour Government during the 1980s...

 (the reformist Finance Minister
Minister of Finance (New Zealand)
The Minister of Finance is a senior figure within the government of New Zealand. The position is often considered to be the most important Cabinet role after that of the Prime Minister....

) and other Labour MPs, Goff generally positioned himself on the side of Douglas, supporting deregulation
Deregulation
Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or simplification of government rules and regulations that constrain the operation of market forces.Deregulation is the removal or...

 and free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

.

In the 1990 elections
New Zealand general election, 1990
The 1990 New Zealand general election was held on 27 October to determine the composition of the 43rd New Zealand parliament. The governing Labour Party was defeated, ending its controversial two terms in office...

, Labour was defeated, and Goff lost his own parliamentary seat to Gilbert Myles
Gilbert Myles
Gilbert Myles, JP, is a former New Zealand politician.- Member of Parliament :He was elected to Parliament for the seat of Roskill in the 1990 elections as part of the New Zealand National Party, a previously safe-seat of the previously ruling Labour Party, largely on a platform of opposition to...

. 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, but eventually decided to stand for parliament once again.
In the 1993 elections
New Zealand general election, 1993
The 1993 New Zealand general election was held on 6 November 1993 to determine the composition of the 44th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the governing National Party, led by Jim Bolger, win a second term in office, despite a major swing back towards the Labour Party. The new Alliance and New...

, Goff was re-elected as MP for Roskill
Roskill (New Zealand electorate)
Roskill was a New Zealand parliamentary electorate, from 1919 to 1996.-Population centres:The electorate is in the western suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand.-History:...

. Helen Clark
Helen Clark
Helen Elizabeth Clark, ONZ is a New Zealand political figure who was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008...

, 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
New Zealand general election, 1996
The 1996 New Zealand general election was held on 12 October 1996 to determine the composition of the 45th New Zealand Parliament. It was notable for being the first election to be held under the new Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and produced a parliament considerably more diverse...

, 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

Cabinet minister (1999–2008)



In the 1999 elections
New Zealand general election, 1999
The 1999 New Zealand general election was held on 27 November 1999 to determine the composition of the 46th New Zealand Parliament. The governing National Party, led by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, was defeated, being replaced by a coalition of Helen Clark's Labour Party and the smaller Alliance...

, 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
New Zealand general election, 2002
The 2002 New Zealand general election was held on 27 July 2002 to determine the composition of the 47th New Zealand Parliament. It saw the reelection of Helen Clark's Labour Party government, as well as the worst-ever performance by the opposition National Party.Arguably the most controversial...

. Following the 2005 elections
New Zealand general election, 2005
The 2005 New Zealand general election held on 17 September 2005 determined the composition of the 48th New Zealand Parliament. No party won a majority in the unicameral House of Representatives, but the Labour Party of Prime Minister Helen Clark secured two more seats than nearest rival, the...

 Rt Hon. Winston Peters
Winston Peters
Winston Raymond Peters is a New Zealand politician and leader of New Zealand First, a political party he founded in 1993. Peters has had a turbulent political career since entering Parliament in 1978. He served as Minister of Maori Affairs in the Bolger National Party Government before being...

 was made Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Goff was made Minister of Defence and Disarmament and retained the Trade portfolio.

In 2003 convicted rapist Stewart Murray Wilson
Stewart Murray Wilson
Stewart Murray Wilson , known as the Beast of Blenheim, is a notorious criminal from Blenheim, New Zealand. He is currently in Rolleston Prison....

 doctored and distributed a letter from then-Justice Minister
Justice Minister
A justice ministry is a ministry or other government agency charged with justice. The ministry is often headed by a minister for justice or secretary of justice or secretary for justice; sometimes the head of a department of justice is entitled attorney general.Specific duties may relate to...

 Goff, in an apparent attempt to get his case reviewed.

In 2005, as justice minister, he passed legislation that dramatically strengthened laws condemning child pornography, and child sex.

In his Trade portfolio during the 2005–2008 parliamentary term, Goff signed the free trade agreement with China. He has been known for his like of free trade.

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.

Leader of the Opposition



At the 2008 election
New Zealand general election, 2008
The 2008 New Zealand general election was held on 8 November 2008 to determine the composition of the 49th New Zealand parliament. The conservative National Party, headed by its Parliamentary leader John Key, won a plurality of votes and seats, ending 9 years of government dominated by the social...

 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.

Smacking referendum


Both Goff and Prime Minister John Key
John Key
John Phillip Key is the 38th Prime Minister of New Zealand, in office since 2008. He has led the New Zealand National Party since 2006....

 have said that they will not vote in the corporal punishment referendum
New Zealand citizens-initiated referendum, 2009
The New Zealand corporal punishment referendum, 2009 was held in New Zealand from 31 July to 21 August, and was a citizens-initiated referendum on parental corporal punishment...

. 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."

Potential GST rise


In John Key's Statement to Parliament
Parliament of New Zealand
The Parliament of New Zealand consists of the Queen of New Zealand and the New Zealand House of Representatives and, until 1951, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The House of Representatives is often referred to as "Parliament".The House of Representatives usually consists of 120 Members of...

 in February 2010, the government
Fifth National Government of New Zealand
The Fifth National Government of New Zealand is the current government of New Zealand. It is led by Prime Minister John Key.After the 2008 general election the National Party and its allies were able to form a government, taking over from Helen Clark's Fifth Labour Government. The National party...

 announced its consideration of raising Goods and Services Tax
Goods and Services Tax (New Zealand)
Goods and Services Tax is a value added tax introduced in New Zealand on 1 October 1986 at 10%. It later increased to 12.5% on 1 July 1989 and was further increased to 15% on 1 October 2010....

 from 12.5% to 15%. 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. In May 2010 Goff suggested exempting fresh fruit and vegetables from GST. Key called the exemption of such items "very bureaucratic" and Goff's announcement "desperate".

Mining in national parks


In February 2010 a discussion document was released, proposing that 7,058 ha of land in national park
National park
A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently A national park is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or...

s be opened up for mining. 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.

2011 General Election


On 26 November 2011 the results of the general election
New Zealand general election, 2011
The 2011 New Zealand general election on Saturday 26 November 2011 determined the membership of the 50th New Zealand Parliament.One hundred and twenty-one MPs were elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives, 70 from single-member electorates, including one overhang seat, and 51 from party...

 were very poor for Labour, which lost 6.86% of the list vote and 9 electorate seats. Phil Goff sated that this "wasn't our time this time....but our time will come again...we're a bit bloodied but not defeated."
Three days after conceding defeat Goff and his deputy Annette King announced they will be standing down from their leadership positions on December 13 but will stay on in Parliament as electorate MPs.

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.

Life outside parliament


Goff is also a member of the Board of Advisors of the Global Panel Foundation-Australasia.

Phil Goff is married to Mary Ellen Goff, whom he met in 1971 and married in 1979. They have three adult children – Kristopher, Sara, and Kieran. He lives on a 8 hectares (19.8 acre) farmlet in the rural Auckland suburb of Clevedon. Goff's nephew, U.S. Army Captain Matthew Ferrara, was killed in 2007 during the Afghanistan War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

.

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