Drury and Norman clash over spy claims

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 11:23 13/06/2013

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Xero boss Rod Drury and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman have clashed on Twitter after Drury told the Greens "don't be w***kers" over spying concerns.

Norman issued a media release yesterday questioning whether Palantir, a firm co-founded by wealthy US technology investor and Xero shareholder Peter Thiel, had been hired by the Government to spy on New Zealanders.

Palo Alto, California, start-up Palantir sells a data-mining tool called Prism, but has denied it has anything to do with controversial software of the same name used by the United States National Security Agency, saying it was an unrelated software product used by financial services firms.

Drury accused Norman of putting "relationships at risk".

The Greens had been the "smartest politicians" until now, but it looked like the party was "selling out New Zealand", he said.

"My feedback is 'cool it'."

The pair also clashed on economic policy with Drury deriding the Greens for "destroying $200 million" by proposing a new model for the electricity sector.

Norman held his ground saying a reduction in the asset value of electricity generators was an unavoidable consequence of ending "price gouging" in the industry.

Drury terminated the exchange, tweeting that was his "political tweets done for the day" and he was getting "back to the business of exporting and creating jobs".

"When you want to know how markets work let me come in and I'll tell you", he told Norman.

Speaking from Australia this morning after the Twitter exchange, Drury said the Greens had developed a fixation with "cronyism" which he did not believe was a major issue in New Zealand business.

Thiel was "an incredible friend of New Zealand" and Drury said he was annoyed about the collateral damage caused by Norman's claims.

Norman said in his media release that Thiel had met with Prime Minister John Key a number of times and Key had "hidden behind public interest arguments" when questioned about Palantir.

During the Twitter exchange he cited the Government's deal with SkyCity over an Auckland conference centre as evidence the country did have "a major problem".

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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