Seven Network spinner Simon Francis writes: Re. "Another massive taxpayer subsidy for HRL" (Monday, item 5) and "Forget Santo, what about the PM’s conflict?" (yesterday, item 1). Almost 13 years ago, Kerry Stokes invested in a Bain & Co deal on HRL. He didn’t instigate the deal. The Bain syndicate beat out another two syndicates. At the time, Jeff Kennett was in power in Victoria (pardon the pun) and John Howard was not leader of the Opposition let alone Prime Minister. To now claim that the Prime Minister’s son is somehow linked to a government investment in "clean coal" is approaching ludicrous. Kerry Stokes’s private companies own a 20% shareholding in HRL, which has invested $130 million of private capital into developing a pilot plant to test new technology. This new technology has been shown to reduce emissions from wet brown coal by around 30% and there’s now a joint venture with the electricity authority in the Chinese province in Harbin to introduce this new technology. The technology works. Hence the government’s investment in the project after a private investment of $130 million over the past decade. Mr Stokes would like to counter the "particularly grubby deal" allegation in Monday’s Crikey with the point that it was a competitive tender against two significant bidders. He would also like to point out that at no time during the process did he speak to the Victorian or Federal Governments about his initial investment or the tender process. We suspect that private capital developing a new technology that reduces emissions from coal by 30% and a government commitment to further develop and take this technology to the world would be welcome. Not something – as Crikey would claim – you’d call grubby.
Jill Emberson, Head of Communications at Wizard Home Loans, writes: Re. "GE Money: Time to put the low doc loans genie back in the bottle" (Tuesday, item 5). Just keen to correct a couple of errors about mortgages and Wizard in Tuesday’s story from Glenn Dyer. Wizard does not offer no doc/low doc loans with 100% finance (ie, no deposit). Wizard only offers 100% finance to borrowers who are fully documented, ie, they have a clean credit history – no defaults, no unpaid bills, etc. Importantly they have to show sound and verifiable employment records. This gives assurance that they can hold down a job to meet their mortgage repayments. The article describes the sub-prime mortgage market as the no doc/low doc market. This is not correct. The sub-prime market refers to the market of borrowers with adverse credit histories ie unpaid bills, bankruptcy, defaults etc. Wizard does not lend to the sub-prime market. We operate in the prime market, ie we only lend to customers who have a clean credit record. The level of documentation – full, low or none – refers to the records of proof that a borrower can provide, ie, payslips, credit histories, etc, to support a loan application.