Gillard's partner under fire for 'tasteless' joke on 'prostate cancer and Asian women'

Sydney, Jan. 29 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her partner Tim Mathieson is a passionate advocate for men's health, but he picked a tasteless way of conveying his message.

Gillard has responded to criticism of Mathieson, who had joked to the West Indian cricket team about prostate cancer and Asian women at a function at The Lodge.

She told ABC Radio that 'Tim apologized for a joke that was in poor taste, adding that she thought that was the right thing for him to do, to offer an apology'.

She said that 'Tim is very passionate about men's health causes and he does go around the country talking to men about getting regular check ups'.

According to news.com.au, she added that 'men are not necessarily all that good at taking themselves off to the GP and talking sometimes about pretty hard-to-talk-about things so he does try and persuade people to make sure that they get the checks done that are recommended'.

She added that 'obviously there's various ways of getting that message across, but he's certainly acknowledged that the joke cracked last night was in poor taste'.

Mathieson made the quip during a speech at The Lodge last night for the Prime Minister's XI cricket match which will be held in Canberra today.

He was acting in his capacity as a men's health ambassador when he encouraged the gathering, which included the West Indian cricket team, to get a prostate examination.

He said that 'we can get a blood test for it, but the digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small, female, Asian doctor is probably the best way'.

Mathieson later said that his comments were aimed at raising awareness about prostate cancer and the need for men to get regular checks.

In a brief statement issued by the prime minister's office, he said that it was meant as a joke and on reflection he accepts that it was in poor taste.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia chief executive Anthony Lowe downplayed the gaffe, saying Mathieson was a strong advocate for men's health.

The joke triggered anger, disappointment, eye rolls and a couple of chuckles from the social media brigade and a surprising defence from liberal senator, George Brandis.

Some are calling it a quip, others are saying the comment was, at best, poor taste and, at worst, derogatory and even racist, the report added. (ANI)

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