The worst outcome for the Emissions Minister is that the Taylor team will be found to be remarkably incompetent … and corrupt.
That would seem the least likely outcome, simply because a broad belief that no politician could deliberately create a fake number of this magnitude and not expect to be tumbled.
But there also is a vein of opinion that the capacity of politicians to be stupid should not be underestimated.
The two options are the only possible explanations for how the minister was allowed to send a letter to Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore accusing her councillors of spending $14 million on domestic travel.
The actual figure was in the low thousands of dollars.
The letter was a smarty-pantsed response to Ms Moore urging Mr Taylor to join in declaring a climate emergency. The objective was to depict the Lord Mayor and councillors as high-flying emission hypocrites.
How that bogus figure slipped through to official ministerial correspondence is now being investigated by NSW police financial crime squad. It has never been appropriately explained, although Mr Taylor has apologised for it.
His fate, and in broader terms the credibility of the Government will be hanging on the outcome of Strike Force Garrad.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison appeared to have been caught by surprise by the police probe when Labor broadcast its existence in Question Time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stuck by his minister and dismissed the issue — police probe or not — as a political issue pumped out of proportion by Labor.
“I take matters of ministerial standards very seriously,” the Prime Minister told Parliament eventually.
“I have since spoken with the New South Wales Police Commissioner about the investigation and the nature and substance of their inquiries which he advised me were based only on the allegations referred to by the shadow attorney-general (Mark Dreyfus).”
And that seems to be the Government’s strongest hope — that the matter can be scoffed away as a purely partisan matter and not worthy of serious examination.
But the police probe will keep attention on Mr Taylor for the final two weeks of Parliament, leaving doubts in the minds of some voters as they switch off for the holiday season.