Compare his and Key's training and Cunliffe says there is a significant difference in their ideals despite similar boyhood backgrounds.
"There is a clear difference in the way that we think based on our professional training. He's spent most of his life as a trader, which is by definition taking a series of bets on short-term positions, whereas my training at BCG [Boston Consulting Group] was in strategy ... working back from your desired future to what you do tomorrow to try to get you on the best path.
I have no problem with him as a person, same goes for Bronagh, she seems like a perfectly nice person. So I don't wish them any ill at a personal level but it is my job to get New Zealanders a better future with my team and that means changing the government. So I won't be playing the man but I will be playing the ball very vigorously.
So, what's he good at? He can read a map but he ain't got no compass. He's good at pattern recognition, he'll get the polling done and he'll make sure of certain decisions that might maximise his poll. But a series of short-term decisions does not a strategy make.
What you get with a whole lot of short-term decisions is, we'll just export more raw logs, milk more cows, doesn't matter about the dirty rivers, doesn't matter about the leachate in the aquifers, doesn't matter that we are dependent on a commodity price cycle, doesn't matter that our buyers of our final products are now buying up the protein stream as close to the farm gate as they can and would buy the land too if they were allowed. It's just not smart.
Fonterra makes two-thirds of its profit from 15 % of its volume (that being branded consumer goods and smart stuff). From talking to [Fonterra boss] Theo Spierings I'm aware their strategy is to try to move more of their volume into that high value space and maximise returns that way, but there is a real tension because down on the farm people are just trying to put more cows on the land and Fonterra [and others] has to move the product. In the peak of the season they are just moving milk.
Photos: David Cunliffe: The early years
The fundamental problem is New Zealand is still a raw products exporter. National's got no game plan to change that. Longterm vision is a harder sell. For example public health investments may take 20 years for the full benefit, such as universal bowel cancer screening which is incredibly effective. Compulsory savings is another; they are not easy to sell but they are the right thing to do."