28 Oct 2022

Goff relaxed on political nature of new UK role

12:20 pm on 28 October 2022
Auckland mayor Phil Goff

Phil Goff says he will be well placed to help New Zealand businesses profit from the trade deal with the UK. Photo: Supplied

Former Labour politician and Auckland mayor Phil Goff says his appointment as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom is being positively received.

In an expected move, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta yesterday announced Goff would be New Zealand's next High Commissioner in London.

Goff, who held the foreign affairs, trade and defence portfolios during his 32 years with the Labour Party, will take up the new role in January.

Questioned on Morning Report about any criticism of him as a political appointee he said he has seen a positive response so far, including from the leaders of the National and Act parties.

In the past in some instances political appointees had added real value, but in others they had been "less than appropriate", Goff said.

"What's important is that you're doing the job, you're doing the job on behalf of New Zealand and hopefully you're bringing together the skills and experience that've you've acquired."

He said his wide-ranging experience in several sectors will help him get entry to places that civil servants might not be able to access.

"But I'll be working with a very professional staff and I've publicly rated Foreign Affairs in the past as one of the most professional of our public service departments."

Asked about Trevor Mallard's appointment as Ireland Ambassador Goff said he would bring professionalism and competency to his role.

"I expect he will leave partisanship behind him; he will do the job professionally ... and nobody doubts that he has real talent to draw on in carrying out that role."

With a trade deal already secured with the UK Goff he has already met with sector groups in Wellington telling them he can add value when he takes up his role in London.

"It gives us a great opportunity to diversify our markets. This is the world's fifth biggest economy and our sixth biggest trading partner.

"So the opportunities are there particularly for dairy early on and wine and honey and our financial services.

"So my job will be to help facilitate for the people in New Zealand who want to take advantage of what that free trade agreement provides."

The British were also keen to join the CPTPP (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) for which New Zealand was a founding member.

The goal was to encourage more members, Goff said, and it would be good to have the UK involved but the British would have to meet the standards that the original members have set.

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