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Disability advocate seeks Conroy seat

AAP logoAAP 20/09/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Australia could have its first blind federal parliamentarian if a grass-roots campaign is successful.

Tony Clark was Labor's unsuccessful candidate in the Victorian seat of Deakin at the July election, running under the slogan "No sight but great vision".

The former Vision Australia manager is now being touted as a replacement for retiring Victorian Labor senator Stephen Conroy.

Former president of the Victorian Disability Services Board, Tricia Malowney, has backed a change.org petition to have Mr Clark fill the casual vacancy.

In an article posted on the Pro Bono Australia website she said the parliament should reflect the diversity of the Australian people.

"I have often felt that there is something missing in Canberra and that something is people with disabilities," she wrote.

Mr Clark had been able to push through the "artificial barriers of assumptions and prejudice" to have a successful career.

"We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and yet all too often people with disabilities struggle to access the very necessities of life - somewhere to live, somewhere to work.

"They are unable to access education, healthcare, recreation and sport - the very things most people in the community take for granted."

Petition creator Jacob Rodrigo wrote on the change.org website it was an "historic opportunity".

"I volunteered for Tony during the recent election campaign, when he was the Labor candidate for the seat of Deakin," he said.

"He is a candidate with qualities not often found in a politician: real community connections, empathy, humour and principles."

Victorian Labor's 100-member public office selection committee will meet in coming weeks to determine a replacement.

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