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‘I’m horrified’: Minister apologises for abortion debate joke

Steve Price

A senior NSW minister has apologised for making a joke about parliamentary gym access during a “serious and emotional” partyroom debate about abortion.

Liberal and National MPs met for the first time since the winter break, discussing whether the state should decriminalise abortion.

Following the “robust debate”, Planning Minister Rob Stokes stood up and called for political staffers to be banned from the parliamentary gym during lunch hours, to allow MPs better access.

According to The Daily Telegraph, several MPs were shocked at the change in topic, unclear if Mr Stokes was joking.

The Planning Minister phoned Steve Price early on Wednesday morning to apologise for his behaviour.

“I’m horrified there’s a suggestion I was trying to trivialise a debate as serious and emotional as abortion.

“Obviously, this was a robust meeting and this was a well-intentioned attempt to lighten the mood a bit at the conclusion of the meeting.

“[I] obviously missed the mark and it was misinterpreted and I’m very sorry for any offence caused.

Asked whether he really wants politicians to have exclusive access to the gym, Mr Stokes made his position clear.

“I was seeking to find some way in which to lighten the mood a bit.

“I couldn’t care who is in the gym, Steve.”

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