Labour Party to name Goff and King as new leaders

By Audrey Young

Phil Goff will be elected Labour Party leader today with Annette King his deputy, and one of their first jobs will be to give David Cunliffe the crucial finance spokesmanship.

Neither the leader's job nor the deputy's will be contested when the caucus meets today at Premier House following Saturday's election defeat.

Helen Clark will formally tender her resignation as Labour leader after 15 years in the job, the past nine as Prime Minister, most likely after the presentation of silver trays to defeated MPs.

Outgoing Finance Minister and deputy leader Michael Cullen will relinquish his posts after holding the finance portfolio for 17 years and being Helen Clark's deputy since 1996. He is not expected to resign from Parliament.

Mr Goff has held Foreign Affairs, Defence, Trade and Corrections.

His leadership ambitions have been an open secret for years, though he has done nothing to undermine Helen Clark.

He and Ms King will be considered a combative and battle-hardened line-up and more than a match in the House in terms of experience for National leader John Key and deputy Bill English.

Mr Goff's hard-line crime and justice policies have cemented his position on the right of the Labour caucus. Ms King is more centrist and more popular than Mr Goff and is likely to bring more personal management skills to the leadership than Mr Goff.

Mr Cunliffe, the outgoing Health Minister, is thought to have had his eye on the deputy's job but in a negotiated solution will be offered the plum finance role.

He will be going head to head with Mr English, National's incoming Finance Minister, who has held the position previously.

In the midst of an international financial crisis and heading into deeper global strife, the role will be a critical one in the Labour Opposition.

Former Housing Minister Maryan Street was another possible deputy leadership contender but ruled herself out.

She is among the newer Labour MPs who can expect promotion under a Goff-King leadership team, as can Darren Hughes and Shane Jones.

Mr Goff, Mt Roskill MP, was first elected in 1981 and had three years out of politics when he lost his seat in 1990.

Ms King was first elected in 1984 and Mr Cunliffe in 1999.

- NZ Herald

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