11 Sep 2009

Labour Party must learn from mistakes, leader admits

10:29 pm on 11 September 2009

Labour leader Phil Goff says the party must acknowledge the mistakes it made in government if it is to move forward.

Mr Goff made the comments in Rotorua as Labour holds its first annual conference following last year's defeat to National after nine years in power.

Mr Goff says it is clear that last year many voters did not believe Labour was listening to them anymore, and the party needs to learn from the election loss.

However, he says the mistakes Labour made were the responsibility of the whole government - not just of former prime minister Helen Clark and her deputy Michael Cullen.

Mr Goff says he acknowledges the legacy of Miss Clark, who led Labour for 15 years and now works for the United Nations, but the party is looking to the future, not the past.

He acknowledges Labour lost touch with voters while in government and says its job now is to promote policies around issues people care about.

Mr Goff says Labour did get policies wrong, and he will address that in his conference speech on Sunday.

Party president Andrew Little also referred to Labour's mistakes, saying its legislation on the foreshore and seabed had been wrong.

Both men, however, said the conference should also celebrate the significant achievements of the last Labour-led Government.

Mr Goff arrived at the conference riding a 2.3-litre Triumph motorcycle.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says it is the sort of camera-friendly stunt designed to show the human side of the career politician that Miss Clark would never have dreamed of.