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Goff Faces First Party Conference Since Labour's Defeat

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

By Peter Wilson of NZPA

Wellington, Sept 10 NZPA - Labour leader Phil Goff is expected to set a new agenda for his party when it holds its annual conference in Rotorua this weekend.

It will be the first time the party's membership has gathered since last year's election defeat and the seamless leadership handover from Helen Clark and Michael Cullen to Mr Goff and his deputy Annette King.

Labour is well down in the polls as John Key's government enjoys an extended honeymoon with voters but Mr Goff can claim some successes for his party.

A very good Mt Albert by-election result for Labour brought in David Shearer to join an impressive batch of new MPs who have been making an impact in Parliament.

In his keynote speech on Sunday, Mr Goff will be stamping his own style on the leadership and is likely to outline the strategy and policies it will follow into next year.

Mr Goff has previously acknowledged Labour did not listen to the concerns of voters in some areas before last year's election and he will want to draw a line under those failures.

Labour has already launched a "reconnect" campaign, with MPs around the country working at local level to get to know voters and hear their opinions.

The new-look leadership extends to the position of party president and secretary.

Union leader Andrew Little has taken over from Mike Williams as president and Chris Flatt is the new secretary.

The conference opens tomorrow night, when Mr Little will speak, and on Saturday there is a heavy agenda of policy discussion by working groups which will thrash out the party's attitudes in key portfolio areas.

The conference guest speaker is South Australian premier Mike Rann and Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly will also address delegates.

Also speaking will be Progressive Party leader Jim Anderton.

He was president of the Labour Party from 1979 until 1984 and it will be the first time in 21 years that he has addressed an annual conference.

He will talk about how members of the Progressive Party and the Labour Party can work together.

Mr Goff speaks on Sunday before Ms King wraps up the conference.

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