While Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are dealing with fallout from the Peters donations affair, it is Goff who is chalking up the victories on their behalf on the foreign affairs front.
Phil Goff's successful forays on the international trade front position him as a potential Labour leader when Helen Clark ultimately steps down.
Goff (characteristically) tried to suppress his triumphalist instincts when he went live on New York streets to announce the United States had agreed to talk free trade with New Zealand. But the broad grin gave him away.
While Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are dealing with fallout from the Winston Peters donations affair, it is Goff who is chalking up the victories on their behalf on the foreign affairs front. A factor that the trio should keep front-of-mind in case they are tempted to indulge in more anti-American bashing for election campaign purposes.
The United States and New Zealand are finally at the negotiating gate after years of lobbying on our part to get a bilateral free trade agreement.
It is true that New Zealand is just one of the four countries that comprise the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Pacific Four) group: New Zealand, Chile, Brunei and Singapore. But New Zealand was always going to find it difficult to get the US to the negotiating door on its own. There is little strategic utility in a New Zealand free trade agreement from the superpower's viewpoint.
But Goff was able to use his persuasive powers with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab to position the Pacific Four as the nucleus of a much larger play which will ensure the United States is part of what will ultimately be a broad Asia-Pacific deal. It will also ensure more runs are made on the board while the World Trade Organisation talks remain in limbo.
There will inevitably be hard talks ahead. But the announcement is a major triumph for Goff, coming on top of his signing of the Chinese free trade deal in Beijing in April and the recent successful conclusion of the joint agreement with Australia and Asean.
There has been plenty of criticism from free trade negativists this week - some of it quite derisory - but the brute reality is that if New Zealand's trading competitors get deals and we don't, our exporters will face big hurdles getting product into offshore markets at a competitive rate.
It has not been an easy time for New Zealand's foreign affairs establishment. Goff had to step into the breach caused by Winston Peters' departure from the foreign affairs portfolio - and get some action at official level on the San Lu tainted milk powder scandal. Ambassador Tony Browne had issued a full report to Wellington just two days after Peters stood down from the foreign affairs portfolio on August 31.
It is unclear at this stage just how much the ducking and weaving over Peters' future, in the critical week after Browne first informally alerted Wellington, might have slowed down the official reaction from New Zealand. It's not easy for officials to know when to press buttons when their minister is on the way out.
But once Goff was briefed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on September 2, he ordered officials to get more intelligence together so the Prime Minister and relevant Cabinet colleagues could decide the next steps. Goff's nose was out of joint when Clark gave his prized foreign affairs portfolio to Peters to buy New Zealand First's support after the 2005 election.
His frustration famously erupted at the subsequent Apec meeting in Busan where he told me that having Peters in Cabinet would be like having your mother-in law living in your house rather than next door - "it's much easier sometimes when she's next door as you've each got your own space" - adding he would be keeping a "close eye" on his former portfolio.
Goff pulled his head in after Peters went ballistic over the sniping and concentrated (at least publicly) on his own pivotal trade portfolio while Peters' antagonistic relationships with journalists got in the way of him publicly chalking up policy successes.
This must have rankled with Goff who has all along recognised the value of professional media relations to amplifying New Zealand's successes in the foreign relations arena. On this score, Peters was a disaster.
But all along Goff chaired the Cabinets External Relations and Defence committee which Peters used to attend on an ex-officio basis. Like Clark, Goff is a details person. He is also so adept at pushing his own spin that he will often pose questions and answer them during interviews rather than listening carefully to his interlocutors.
But this is a minor failing. Importantly he gets the job done. Congratulations Phil Goff.