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Rod Drury, Russel Norman go at it on Twitter over Palantir

There was a brief, frank exchange of views between Green Party leader Russel Norman and entrepreneur Rod Drury on Twitter this morning. To wit:

The conversation ended there. The Xero CEO quickly moved on to his next topic (why are taxis so much cheaper in Sydney than Auckland?).

Palantir was co-founded by Peter Thiel, most famous for making billions through his early Paypal and Facebook investments. Mr Thiel is an investor in Xero, and other NZ tech startups.

The Greens have alleged US-based data-mining company Palantir, which maintains an office in Wellington, is working with our government and has replicated the NSA's controversial Prism mass telecommunications surveillance technology (in the US, Palantir has its Prism software is the basis for the NSA's system of the same name - but by the same token, it's a fact the company received  financial backing from the CIA and has its genesis in intelligence gathering - see Are Palantir spooks?).

Prime Minister John Key says he won't comment on such "operational matters." 

"I can’t tell you how the United States gathers all of their information and what techniques they use. I simply don’t know that," Mr Key said on Tuesday:

He added, "If the question is, 'Do we use the United States or one of our other partners to circumvent New Zealand law?' then the answer is categorically no we don’t."

Messrs Dury and Norman reignited their war of words later in the morning, albeit with a more routine asset sales argument (below). Disappointingly, the pair then agreed to take their debate offline and meet for a coffee.

"My brain's not big enough to be sophisticated in 140 chars and want to see look of defeat in your eyes :)," quipped Drury.

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Comments and questions
28

The Greens are clutching at straws and they don't seem to understand the impact that they have as the charge madly about like a bull in a China shop.

It's interesting, they are quick to attack but slow to provide any kind of alternatives.

No alternatives ...or proof.

Maybe Norman has shares in a tin foil manufacturer... and is trying to "hype" all the tin hat wearers into more conspiracy theories?

Why hasn't he been charged with Treason upon NZ Inc and been deported yet?

Surely he can't think he has a "mandate" for being in NZ politics - he can't even win an electorate seat... and one would have thought that would be a minimum requirement - because intelligence, economic reasoning and putting all of NZ before one's own self-interest is clearly lacking with this shriller!

Maybe he should call for an enquiry as to why most of NZ think he's an over-stayer long over-due to be deported!

You and Drury should check your facts instead of going for the easy soundbite. It was Key & National that destroyed 200m when they enlisted marketers and underwriters for managing the sale of MRP in order to supposedly pay down a debt that was incurring less holding costs (interest) than the dividend it was generating.
The alternative if it's that difficult to grasp, is to hold onto the asset, retain the dividends, and DO NOT pay a whole heap of brokers to shift the deck chairs when they were fine where they were.

@PaulR, the "debt" is irrelevant - the comparison must be with the value. The market assessed the value based on expected risk versus reward.

If you believed it mistaken you had the opportunity to take advantage of your wisdom. That the mad red Greens with the assistance of the spineless Labour chose to massively increase the risk and reduce the value was disgraceful.

Yes and that value is still being destroyed. Check out the latest MRP and Contact share prices.

Labour and Greens need to rethink their policy before the other companies are floated.

That's the point. Alan. It's not about me taking advantage. Some people are more concerned about what is best for the greater good of New Zealand, and I would suggest those people will not be voting National next time.
The holding costs are not irrelevant - debt reduction was the only real reason given for this selldown.
If people's perception of the value was swayed by the announcement by the Greens/Labour, then I would respectfully suggest that those people have no business investing in the sharemarket or forex or any market, for that matter, as that type of policy was always a risk with an upcoming election - whether it was announced or not. Who will you be blaming for the loss of value caused by the Tiwai Point announcement?

"The holding costs are not irrelevant - debt reduction was the only real reason given for this selldown."

Every bit of that statement is wrong. The public debt reduction available was dependent on the market value obtained, not the existing debt. The other reasons given for this sell-down were entirely valid - improve sector governance, strengthen the NZX, diversify NZers' savings and investments, and increase overseas investment into this country.

Surely selling well-performing state-owned companies to reinvigorate the sharemarket just goes to show what a failure free market reforms have been. After nearly 30 years of free market reform and management state-owned utilities are being sold to make up for the failure of wealth creation by the private sector.

Disagree totally. NZ Inc was on track to reap a good return from the MRP sale until Shearer and Norman offered the opinion that should they form a government they would buy back all of MRP.

The effect of this is carved in stone. Please refer to the share price even four hours prior to their stupid announcement and then four hours after - $200 million and potentially twice that as we don't know how much more they would have increased had it not been for their stupid move, which given their failed petition and inside knowledge of how successful the sale was shaping up to be can only be sabotage - and, I suggest, an act if economic treason.

They had knowledge and used that to spoil the sale. Either that was a deliberate act and they should be charged as they would if they did that to a private company, or, if they didn't anticipate the result, they are simple fools without any understanding of economics between them let alone "market confidence" and risk.

Thank god people like Rod Drury are prepared to speak up! Shame we don't have more kiwis putting their efforts into bettering NZ inc!

If the Greens/Labour hadn't proposed their preposterous plan then NZ would have received $200m more for the same share sale, so they definitely did destroy value.

Greens will form the next Government. Opinion polls are pointing to that. Not Rod Drury.

I'm pleased to see that these two guys (both of whom, I'm happy to say, I have considerable admiration for) have agreed to meet to discuss these issues over a coffee.

Incidentally, Rod, if you're following this, I can help you with your question about Sydney and Auckland taxis - it's partly the cost of fuel, of course, but also the fact that Aussies are generally better at putting capable people in charge of things than we are - cronyism isn't as bad there as it is here.

It is twice the price in Auckland because it is...

Twice the distance (using Google Maps and Darling Harbour/Britomart as destination) - 9km vs 21km

The lower cost is based more on competition than anything else. Sydney has a very good rail system and it much quicker than a cab.

So the lesson for Rod from JP is, if you want cheaper taxi rides vote for more investment in public transport rather than roads of National Party significance...?

Surely, Mr Drury, your time could be more productively employed?

Talking sense into Dr Norman!

You would be much more successful using that time to teach a cow to ride a bike. Surely?

Remarkable, isn't it.

A thousand people can trundle down Queen St protesting against opening up a small percentage of land to mining and this means (according to the Greens) that the population of NZ is overwhelmingly against it.

But more than 100,000 people buy shares in MRP and this is a sign of something to be rejected and destroyed.

The one true bonus of this exchange being conducted by twitter is that we are spared having to listen to Russel's high-pitched Australian whine.

Most New Zealanders are uneasy over asset sales. it is not a Green only issue. Your not understanding this shows a level of stupidity that many reading this newspaper exhibit. That and an arrogant isolation from real New Zealand that privilege brings.

Shane, you are correct, most people are concerned. However, when it is a done deal, make sure you get the best price. The discussion was around the 200mill that was lost as a result of Lab/Green stupidity, bordering on treason.

The usual personal attack from the Left devoid of knowledge, logic and expertise.

And to answer Norman's silly question we want the price of electricity to be set by competitive efficient markets that will ensure good service and secure supply. Keeping politicians from wrecking that market is the first step.

And I would like to believe in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas, but no amount of imagine will make them real, any more than imagining NZ's electricity market is either efficient or competitive will make it so.

They do use Palantir.

Not often I agree with Mr Drury - but this time, Norman is reinforcing his determination to wreck the NZ economy.

Some of the stuff that has come out of his mouth the last couple of weeks confirms that Norman should not be let near the treasury benches.

Norman firmly has his 'eyes wide shut'.

I am wondering how Norman is going to get rid of the monopoly on Electricity by creating a single buying point - surely that is the definition of a monopoly.

So they are going to take the Electricity providers which are today mostly owned by one group - i.e. the government and put a single monopoly on top of the existing monopoly (by which time when they get in power is probably not likely to be a monopoly as parts of it have been sold off)

Doesn't make sense -in terms of his monopoly argument. Maybe it does based on a Muldoonism central price fixing point of view.

Also sounds like something right out of the Sledge Hammer TV series "Trust me I know what I am doing"

As to Prism software - surely this is just business intelligence software as sold by many others. There was a Prism Solutions started by Bill Inmon who we refer to as the grandfather of Data Warehousing.

I work in this industry have done for 20 years - and I tell you the USA government is the least of your worries - business is using this to impact your everyday lives - they count every click you make on the Internet everything you do. I am in the industry and it still amazes me that if I look at something like shoes on a site or something on amazon then the next few days as I browse the web these adds keep popping up.

The NSA using this will have close to zero impact on most people except perhaps add to their safety - business using it as they are right now will impact you every day - imagine if every day all your saw was things that you like, you will spend, spend, spend. In the old days we were somewhat protected as you walk through a shop the random - like this don't like this - saved your pocket a little - but now business can focus on just your hearts desire.

Dr Norman is still talking about reducing electricity prices. Does he not read his own press releases? Only last week he was talking about putting a carbon tax in place -- I'll repeat what I said last week ; that will wipe out any small gains from electricity price reductions plus add more costs to the household budgets.
How can you take anything the guy says seriously?

"How can you take anything the guy says seriously?"

Well, he's got the former co-leader of a "McGillicuddy Serious" party on his side... so he is serious about being serious.

Perhaps Norman should read the academic critques of the Wolak report. A report completed in 2009, that has been found to be incorrect with regard to part of its methodology and conclusions. They are only a Google away and alludes to the fact that Wolaks $4.3bn of price gouging is a nonsense.
In fact, Rod Drury should read them, then he could call Norman out on another lie.

Yes, because we need a right-winged fascist telling a polly how to do their job. Politics isn't just about money.