Mainfreight chief Don Braid has called time on the Government's leadership saying New Zealand needs to be led by visionaries - not "a couple of accountants".

"I think they've stopped listening to us. And I think they think they know better than us. And that's a problem I think for a Government that's been around for a long time," Braid said.

In a video interview for the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom Election Survey, Braid acknowledged the National-led Government's fiscal focus had been invaluable as New Zealand worked its way out of the impact of the Global Financial Crisis.

But he claimed the country had forgotten about investing for the future.


"The infrastructure of the country both in transportation, education, housing, water - all those things have been forgotten about in our view," he said.

"And now we need to have an intense look at where the country sits to fund the growth of the population, to fund the tourism that the country has found - which is all good for us, but we'll lose it if we don't look after it."

Asked why the Government took its eye off the ball, Braid blamed its focus on prudent fiscal responsibility.

"With all due respect, we're sort of being run by a couple of accountants, rather than visionaries, and I think the country needs some visionaries."

The Herald: "What you're talking about does seem quite a severe indictment on the current politicians who are running the Government."

Braid replied: "Well, I think the indictment comes when you have a current Government who have been in power for three terms, who then decide on the basis of electioneering suddenly they find money available for certain projects to actually tick the political landscape box. Whereas perhaps it might well have been better that if they'd continued to invest over a longer period of time the voter would've understood that they're the government for the next term."

The Mainfreight group managing director suggested New Zealand needed to rethink the political landscape.

"I think having an Opposition that sits there and says no to everything - to have no bipartisan agreement on health, on education, on investment in our infrastructure, across political lines - has created the environment that we've got."


Like many chief executives responding to the Herald survey, Braid favours giving the regions access to the GST earned in their area to help fund local infrastructure.

"I think this old style of sending all our tax money to Wellington for them to decide what they do with it as if it's their money, and dish it out when they think it's ready or when they think they need it for perhaps political gain rather than for economic gain for the country, might well be some of the problem.

"And therefore there needs to be a rethink of how we do that."

Asked to rate National's Bill English who has been Prime Minister for less than a year, Braid said: "Well we need some vision. And I don't see that right now."

On Labour's Jacinda Ardern he was fulsome.

"Well it appears she's got youth and she's got energy, and she's almost - without blaspheming - she's the John Key effect for the Labour Party."

He added the rider: "I do think they need to really seriously think about some of the policy that they are bringing to the table and as long as that's not thought on the fly and has had some decent thought behind it before they release it, then she's definitely got this current Government on the run in my view."

In June Mainfreight founder and chairman Bruce Plested labelled NZ's housing situation a "social disgrace".

"The 'market' cannot sort out this problem. Real leadership and intestinal fortitude is needed now," Plested said in the company's annual report.

He decried a lack of respect for water quality and lamented NZ's education performance where only 30 per cent of "children from lower decile school areas" were reaching the average for NCEA Level 3.

Taranaki-raised billionaire Stephen Jennings has also entered the election fray saying New Zealand is "engaging in a dangerous game of denial regarding our social and economic weaknesses".

"In turn, this complacency is reflected in the prognostications and insipid policies of our mainstream political parties."

Jennings launched his attack in the foreword to a book by Act leader David Seymour, entitled Own Your Future, saying issues such as equality in educational outcomes, housing affordability and the sustainability of our pension policies should be "matters of national shame".

The Herald's Mood of the Boardroom Election Survey will be published on Tuesday September 12.

In an event streamed on, National's Steven Joyce and Labour's Grant Robertson will debate the survey results.

In the next Mood of the Boardroom CEO video The Warehouse chair Joan Withers explains why businesses are focused on the disruptive effects of technology.