Andrew Little's been widely touted to succeed Phil Goff as Labour Party leader, but yesterday he told supporters that Goff was the man to take the party to victory at next year's election.

What happens afterwards, if Labour loses, he was not saying - Little is a frontrunner for the New Plymouth seat next year.

In a speech to delegates at Labour's annual conference in Auckland, Little said he would step down as party president next year to run for Parliament.

Labour was in a good position to win the election, he said.

"One thing is certain about Phil - if he were confronted with a racist outburst he would know it and challenge it, up front, there and then," he said, referring to Prime Minister John Key's failure to respond immediately to broadcaster Paul Henry's slur against the Governor-General.

"Phil is a leader. He is a man of substance. He is our leader. He is our leader for 2011 and for government."

Goff's leadership was brought under the spotlight when disgraced MP Chris Carter said he wouldn't be able to win the election.

Last week, Carter was expelled from the party.

And Goff, who is to address the conference today, told the Herald on Sunday that delegates had already put Carter's expulsion behind them.

"It's not a live issue around the conference floor," he said.

Carter stayed well away - mowing the lawns and weeding his Waiheke Island property.