In the end, WA Liberal Mal Washer was prepared to cross the floor to give the Gillard Labor Government some chance of enacting its Malaysian Solution.
At the crucial vote, after more than six hours of debate and several procedural votes, Dr Washer got up and sat next to Labor's Harry Jenkins. He had mistakenly thought that without Queensland maverick Bob Katter siding with the Government, the Rob Oakeshott Bill would die in the House.
But Mr Katter was in the chamber, nestling among ALP MPs.
Dr Washer's vote was not needed and Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop went over to tell him, ever so gently with a kiss.
Having been assured of the Bill's passage, Dr Washer returned to sit with the rest of the coalition MPs.
Earlier in the day, he expressed his determination on the issue: "I have heard a few people say they want solidarity on this issue, but I don't think there's any solidarity in watching people drown on boats."
The Prime Minister paid tribute to his courage last night.
"I'm sure (Dr) Washer is someone who takes his belief in the Liberal Party very, very seriously and is very close to his heart," Julia Gillard said. "But he was sufficiently moved over the last few days to be prepared, if it was necessary, to vote for Mr Oakeshott's Bill if that was the difference between it going through the Parliament or not.
"I think that's to be respected and it says something about the preparedness of people to deal with this issue with the politics on one side."
Much of Parliament's focus yesterday had centred on Dr Washer and another WA Liberal, Judi Moylan. Senior figures from both sides furiously lobbied them to support the Bill to allow asylum seekers to be deported to Kuala Lumpur.
Ms Moylan was not in the chamber for most of the debate but spent considerable time in an ante room where she was joined by Dr Washer.
Manager of Opposition business Christopher Pyne engaged the two in the ante room and about 90 minutes into the debate in the House he summoned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to speak to them.When it came to the vote, neither sided with the Government.
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.