Preparing for the polls: Greens party MP Lee Rhiannon (front left), Greens candidate for Richmond Joe (Giovanni) Ebono (white top), Greens candidate for Page Jeff Johnson (black top) and Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham gathered for a state conference in Mullumbimby over the weekend.
Preparing for the polls: Greens party MP Lee Rhiannon (front left), Greens candidate for Richmond Joe (Giovanni) Ebono (white top), Greens candidate for Page Jeff Johnson (black top) and Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham gathered for a state conference in Mullumbimby over the weekend. Cathy Adams

Ebono heads back into line of fire

JOE (Giovanni) Ebono is a glutton for punishment.

Not only is the writer and sometime broadcaster taking a second run at the Federal seat of Richmond for the Greens, he’s inviting people to have a go at him for it.

Mr Ebono’s candidature for Richmond was announced yesterday at the Greens state conference at Mullumbimby and his campaign will be formally launched today by NSW Greens MP and Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon.

Asked if he’d had a brain snap in agreeing to run again, Mr Ebono laughed.

“This is why we know the lobster is the stupidest animal in the world – because it keeps crawling back into the lobster pot no matter how many times you take it out,” he joked.

However, not even a lobster would consciously go out looking for people who dislike it. Yet, that will be one of the key elements of Mr Giovanni’s campaign, as he strives to win the votes of people who might ordinarily never consider voting Greens.

Mr Ebono said he was getting bumper stickers made up reading ‘Save the environment. Grill a Green’, pointing to a new bid to meet with groups that would ordinarily be hostile to the Greens.

“I want to encourage any group that doesn’t understand, or is hostile to the Greens, to invite me to a function and they can ask me what the Greens are about,” he said.

Some of that hostility can be intense. During the 2007 campaign, Mr Ebono said he had encountered some intense hostility from people who objected to the Greens social agenda. In some cases, people had stalked him from a hall declaring ‘I do not sup with the devil’, in others people had torn up his leaflets and flung them at his feet, saying ‘that’s what I think of your policies’.

Mr Ebono said they were not necessarily the people he wanted to spend more face time with during this campaign – instead he was thinking of groups such as Country Women’s Associations or University of the Third Age – anyone who would at least be willing to listen to him answer their questions.

Perhaps adding a little more fuel to his lobster theory, Mr Ebono also said he’d had a fair bit of fun during the 2007 Richmond campaign – where he and then Nationals candidate Dr Sue Page had developed a kind of camaraderie as they bounced ideas and one-liners off each other.

The other thing that encouraged him to stand again was his result in 2007.

Mr Ebono finished the campaign with nearly 15 per cent of the vote, giving Richmond the third-highest Greens vote in NSW. The only regional seat to record a higher Greens vote than Richmond was Denison in Tasmania, where Mr Ebono said the planned Gunns pulp mill had boosted the party’s support base.



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