Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says her partner has done the right thing by apologising for a "poor taste" joke he made about prostate cancer and Asian women.
Tim Mathieson delivered the joke to members of the West Indian cricket team at a reception in Canberra on Monday as Gillard stood behind him.
"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 Asian female doctor is probably the best way," he said, to laughter.
Mathieson today said his comments were aimed at raising awareness about prostate cancer and the need for men to get regular checks.
"It was meant as a joke and on reflection I accept it was in poor taste," he said in a brief statement issued by the prime minister's office.
"I apologise for any offence caused."
Gillard said her partner was passionate about promoting men's health.
"He does try and, you know, persuade people to make sure that they get the checks done that are recommended," she told ABC radio.
"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.
"Tim's apologised ... and that was the right thing for him to do."
Federal Victorian Liberal MP Kelly O'Dwyer said Mathieson's comment was tasteless and lacked judgment.
But shadow attorney-general George Brandis said while the joke was "slightly unfortunate", political correctness in Australia had gone too far.
"The joke was in poor taste but that having been said, I don't think we want to have in this country a culture of finger-wagging and confected outrage," he said.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne, who was at the function on Monday, said it was good for people to think twice about their off-the-cuff remarks.
"Whilst part of our culture is larrikinism, it has led to some pretty unfortunate consequences in the way people tend to express that," she told reporters in Canberra.