The sacred Hansard manuscripts describes the attempts of Penny Wong, Senator from South Australia, to solve the murder of Malcolm Turnbull’s climate change amendments, or CPRS, as it is known in code.
The story goes that a baffling cipher is found near the body of Malcolm Turnbull. Malcolm’s followers, Senator Sue Boyce and Senator Judith Troeth, attempt to sort out the bizarre riddles and are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of John Howard’s ETS election promise.
The unravelling of this mystery requires solutions to a series of brain-teasers, including anagrams and number puzzles. The ultimate solution is found to be intimately connected with the possible location of Climate Change science to a mysterious society called the Priory of Denier’s.
Hansard starts off with the murder of Turnbull’s political career by Silas Abbott (acting on behalf of someone known only as The Minchin). Silas Abbott tries to extract the location of the “keystone”, an item that leads to the secret of the earth’s “cooling”. Penny Wong summons Ian Macfarlane, who is negotiating in Canberra, to the murder scene and ask for his help in deciphering the code Turnbull left on and near his body. Penny Wong believes Silas Abbott is the prime suspect in the murder of the CPRS.
Sue Boyce shows up at the murder scene and quickly gains Macfarlane’s trust. Sue Boyce was Turnbull’s protégé and they were very close to each other until she discovered him participating in a pagan ritual with Julie Bishop at his home in Bondi, when she made a surprise visit there during a break from Parliament. (That she had observed something is mentioned and hinted at several times throughout Hansard, but what it is that she saw is revealed to no one, including the voters, until near the end when she tells the Senate president).
Macfarlane and Wong then find a baffling cipher near Turnbull’s body. These clues were meant to lead to a second set of clues. By deciphering her leader’s clues, Macfarlane finds the policy, which had a key hidden behind it and an address and symbols of the Priory of Deniers were written on the key. Working together, they trick the Whips, flee the scene and figure out the secret of the senate vote.
The key opens a safe deposit box at the Canberra branch of the Liberal Party. Inside the safe deposit box they find the keystone which is actually a large cryptex, a cylindrical device supposedly invented by John Howard for transporting non-core policies. In order to open it the combination of rotating components must be arranged in the correct order. If the cryptex is forced open an enclosed vial of animosity ruptures and dissolves the coalition.
The instructions that Turnbull revealed to Silas Abbott at gunpoint are actually a well-rehearsed lie, namely that the policy is buried in the Church of Scientific Fact . When Silas Abbott reads this, he realises he has been tricked into taking the poisoned leadership.
Still being chased by the Whips, Wong and Macfarlane take the policy to Nick Minchin, who claims he’s an expert in Climate Change and Turnbull’s friend. They flee the senate in Turnbull’s private plane, and on the plane figure out how to understand the CPRS, but the large policy actually contains a second smaller policy with a second riddle that reveals its combination. The riddle refers not to a massive payoff for polluters, but rather to the films of Al Gore.
It turns out that Nick Minchin is the Teacher who sent Silas Abbott to kill Malcolm Turnbull and he also had information on the identities of the opponents of the Priory of Deniers. He then bugged their offices and had Silas Abbott co-opt them. It is Minchin who contacted Julie Bishop, hiding her identity, and tricked her into backing the plan to find the Grail of climate change denial. He never intended to hand the Grail over to Julie Bishop but is taking advantage of the Nationals resolve to find it.
Minchin believes that the Priory of Deniers has broken its vow to reveal the secret of the earth’s cooling to the world at the appointed time. He plans to steal the “cooling” documents and reveal them to the world himself. It was he who informed Silas Abbott that Turnbull had Judith Troeth and Sue Boyce at his parliament office. He did not seize the policy from them himself because he did not want to reveal his identity. He summoned Silas Abbott to seize the policy in his office, but himself thwarted Silas Abbott, in order to gain Turnbull and Macfarlane’s further help with decoding the CPRS.
In order to erase all knowledge of his work, Minchin kills Joe Hockey by giving him polling data laced with Newspoll bias, knowing Hockey has a deadly allergy to Newspoll. Thus, Hockey dies of an anaphylactic shock. Minchin also anonymously tells the press gallery that Silas Abbott is hiding in the Canberra headquarters of Opus Dei.
In a showdown with Minchin in the Senate, Penny Wong secretly opens the second double-dissolution trigger and removes its contents before displaying it in front of Minchin.
Minchin is exposed and led away while fruitlessly begging Macfarlane to tell him the contents of the second cryptex and the secret location of Howard’s polling success.
Even though all four of the leaders of the Priory of Deniers are effectively silenced, the secret is not lost, since there is still a contingency plan (never revealed) that will keep the organisation and its secret alive.