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Goff Promises Strong Opposition From A United Labour Party

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

NZPA political reporters

Wellington, Nov 11 NZPA - The Labour Party is regrouping under a new leader, confident it will be in a strong position to challenge National in 2011.

Senior cabinet minister and long-serving MP Phil Goff was today elected unopposed to take over the leadership from Helen Clark, with his colleague Annette King replacing Michael Cullen as deputy leader.

David Cunliffe, health minister in the Labour government, has been appointed finance spokesman and Miss Clark will be Labour's foreign affairs spokeswoman.

"We accept the verdict of the people," Mr Goff said at a press conference immediately after the flawless transition to a new leadership team.

"After nine years in government, the mood was for change. Time will tell whether the changes that were proposed will be what the public were led to believe."

Mr Goff, speaking at a press conference with Ms King beside him, said there would be changes to the shadow cabinet in senior and junior positions.

Labour has 43 MPs in the new Parliament -- seven fewer than it had after the 2005 election -- and 13 of them are new.

"I believe it is the most capable and talented intake since I can remember, going back to 1984," Mr Goff said.

"It gives us a very strong combination of experienced members and fresh, new talented people."

Mr Goff said several times that National was elected because voters had wanted a change, but he admitted Labour made mistakes.

"We will reflect on why we lost," he said.

"We accept the judgment of the people that it was time for change but there will be factors that contributed to that.

"We will think, in particular, how there came to be a disconnect with a significant proportion of the electorate ... there are things that we will have done that were mistakes.

"We will try to learn those lessons."

Mr Goff said there would not be any drastic policy changes because Labour would stay true to its principles.

"We will be looking at new ways of doing things," he said.

"We will be looking at how New Zealand can best confront new challenges in a way that will create an inclusive society."

He promised to lead a vigorous Opposition which would develop policy, hold the Government to account and fight to regain power.

Mr Goff said he was immensely proud to lead the 92-year-old Labour Party.

"I was born into the Labour Party. It took me 15 years to start paying subscriptions. I can think of no greater honour," he said.

The only other appointments announced today were Darren Hughes as senior whip, Steve Chadwick as junior whip and Dr Cullen as shadow Leader of the House.

Mr Goff and Ms King will get to work on their new shadow cabinet which will be comprehensively reshuffled.

The change in party leadership does not make Mr Goff prime minister. Miss Clark will continue to hold that position until the new government is sworn in next week. All the other cabinet positions also remain in force until the new government takes over.

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