Businessman Peter Yates declared that his late father, a pro-Arab British and Australian politician, was not anti-semitic in an awkward confrontation with Jewish MP Julian Leeser at a private conference, according to a person present.
Mr Yates, a former chief executive of the Packer family’s media interests, hit back at Housing Minister Michael Sukkar, who suggested Mr Yates’ father, William Yates, and brother Oliver Yates might be biased against Jews.
“I just wanted the opportunity to defend my family because the Liberal Party has said my family is anti-semitic,” Mr Yates said at a weekend conference organised by the Centre for Independent Studies, a free-market think tank, according to an attendee.
“My father wasn’t an anti-Semite. My brother wasn’t an anti-Semite.”
Mr Yates, an active and well-known member of the Victorian Liberal Party, was an audience member of a panel on anti-Jewish sentiment chaired by former Macquarie Group chairman Nicholas Moore. The session had just heard that campaign posters for Mr Leeser, who was on the panel, were defaced with dollar signs during the election.
After Mr Yates spoke, Mr Moore said, according to the source: “Is this a statement or a question?”
“Julian Leeser then took the question and made the point that the anti-semitic stuff in the material was new in this age,” the source said.