Auckland mayor Phil Goff responds to rumours he’ll be next Ambassador to the United States

Phil Goff has expressed an interest in a diplomatic posting overseas if the opportunity arises, but is committed to seeing out the current term as mayor of Auckland.

Rumours are circulating in Wellington and Auckland that Goff could be off to Washington as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States, replacing career diplomat Rosemary Banks who has been in the role since February 2018.

Goff told the Weekend Herald he had heard the rumours but would stay on as mayor of Auckland for the full three-year term of office, which ends in October next year.

“I’m elected to serve three years as mayor of this city and that is what I intend to do.”

Goff said he will decide early next year whether to seek a third term as mayor.

“I need to give some serious thought about what I want to do for the future. I have enjoyed the job of mayor. It is a privilege,” said Goff, who turns 68 next week.

Asked if he had been lobbying for the post, he said: “No I haven’t … if I had I wouldn’t be talking about it.”

“I’m not ruling anything out for the future. I will make a decision in consultation with my wife about what I will do at the end of the term.

“Do I want to spend the next three years doing this? Do I take my life in a different direction? Do I want to retire? I’m not the retiring type, but at some point in my life I will reach the point where I don’t want to work 75 hours a week.”

Asked about an overseas posting given his passion for foreign affairs, Goff said: “Maybe sometime in the future that would be an interesting option.”

Goff held the portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Helen Clark Government before becoming Leader of the Opposition after Labour lost the 2008 election.

After Labour failed to regain power in 2011, he stood down as party leader but stayed on as an MP until 2016 when he won the Auckland mayoralty by a landslide.

Both Labour and National Governments have appointed politicians to plum overseas posts such as Washington and London. Former Prime Ministers Jim Bolger, Mike Moore and Bill Rowling and former National Cabinet minister Tim Grosser served in Washington.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta declined to say when Banks’ term is due to end and whether the Government would consider Goff for Washington or another overseas role.

“We won’t be commenting on individual employment matters,” the spokeswoman said.

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