THE West Australian Nationals MP, Tony Crook, says he feels no pressure to spare the government an embarrassing defeat as he mulls whether to support its bill to allow asylum seekers to be sent to Malaysia.
Mr Crook is the last of the six crossbenchers to decide on the changes to the Migration Act that are due to be put to the vote on Thursday.
If Labor loses, it will be the first time since 1929 that a government has lost a vote on one of its own bills in the lower house. The opposition would seize on such a result as proof of a lack of confidence in the government.
Mr Crook told a Perth radio station that this was of no concern to him as he was not one of the four crossbenchers who support Labor in minority government.
''I certainly don't feel beholden to the Prime Minister or to the Labor Party to give them a vote of confidence on the floor of the Parliament,'' he said.
''I gave a letter of commitment to Warren Truss and Tony Abbott if they were in a position to form government that I would guarantee them supply and confidence, and failing that I was still prepared to sit on the crossbench to try and deliver the best possible deal for Western Australia.''
Mr Crook supports offshore processing to deter people smuggling but has voted with the Coalition and the Greens for a motion condemning the Malaysia plan.
It has been speculated that should it become apparent Mr Crook would not support the changes, Labor could pull the bill. But one senior source said yesterday this would show fear and be tantamount to defeat anyway.
The Migration Act changes would allow the government to circumvent the August 31 High Court decision which ruled the Malaysia plan unlawful and cast legal doubt over other offshore locations including Nauru and Manus Island.
The opposition will not support the bill unless it is amended to exclude Malaysia by stipulating asylum seekers can be sent only to countries that are signatories to the United Nations refugee convention.
The bill will be blocked in the Senate by the opposition and Greens but the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, wants a vote in the lower house to put the Coalition on the record for opposing offshore processing.
Mr Crook will be lobbied again this week by both Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott.