It’s getting to the pointy end of the Labor preselection for the seat of Wills and all signs point towards dirt being thrown in one direction — towards Peter Khalil, supported by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and seen as the leader in the race. A pamphlet sent to Labor members in the electorate yesterday detailed his role as director of national security policy for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in 2003, and quoted his views on the Israel/Palestine conflict. Featuring a picture of Khalil on a background of dripping blood, the brochure is entitled “The Truth”, but no one has owned up to being the distributor of the sheet.

While the dirt sheet on Khalil has focused on his work in the Iraq war, little attention has been paid by his rivals to his more recent employment history. Until mid-last year Khalil was the corporate affairs director at SBS. One of the organisation’s biggest fish, who frequently represented the broadcaster in Senate estimates and the like, Khalil left the organisation quietly after SBS’ ad averaging push failed in July 2015. He’d been one of its biggest proponents, but it was shot down in the Senate, with the Labor Party voting against it.

The battle to take over from Labor stalwart Kelvin Thomson has been mired in accusations of backroom deals between factional heavies, but there are some connections that haven’t been as obvious. Also working in the corporate affairs team at SBS under Khalil was Katerina Theophanous, daughter of former Victorian MP Theo Theophanous. While Khalil has no shortage of  people in his corner — including Shorten and David Feeney — we understand that Theophanous Senior’s influence has been important for Khalil. While it was expected that factional bosses would bring in the numbers for Mehmet Tillem, we hear that his lack of outreach to members has put many offside in the electorate.

*Heard anything that might interest Crikey? Send your tips to [email protected] or use our guaranteed anonymous form

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW