On its own the Cunliffe vision may not be particularly bold or revolutionary - boiled down to its nuts and bolts, it promises an economy built on sustainable growth and smart jobs, but he has succeeded in bundling Labour's policies around unemployment, low wages, and crowded housing into that broader story around the economy.
It went down a treat with the union audience. Much of it will even resonate with middle New Zealand, but notes like the living wage for public servants will jar among low-paid workers who won't receive the same largesse, and remind voters of Labour's ill-fated promises on the 2011 campaign trail.
But Cunliffe turned up yesterday with two messages to deliver; the one to the union faithful was that help was on the way with a living wage, paid parental leave and union-friendly laws once Labour was in power. The other, once he was outside the room, was that there were still strings attached, and any promises would have to meet the test of being fiscally responsible first.
It may be a case of different messages for different audiences but if the purpose of yesterday's speech was to remobilise the all-important union movement and its foot soldiers behind Labour, it looks to have succeeded.
The Greens and the Mana Party will be worried by Mr Cunliffe's pitch to the CTU. It is the votes of the far Left that he is going after with the policies announced yesterday, and three into one does not fit.
But the mere fact that Mr Cunliffe did NOT tell the union audience that his Labour utopia had strings attached and was dependent on affordability is interesting. It's all a bit reminiscent of Len Brown's statement during the 2010 Auckland mayoral campaign that "I will always front up. I will give you the straight answers, always with a limit.".
As Opposition leader, David Cunliffe can promise the earth. The hard part will be delivering on the promises, should he ever become Prime Minister.