Alan Tudge (Image: AAP)

Robodebt is a dystopian enough word, but the program’s official name -- the Online Compliance Intervention -- would have conveyed its sinister intent more effectively. Remember that other “intervention”? Perhaps it’s Coalition secret code for punishing the unworthy.

Robodebt was introduced in 2016 with the promise of using artificial intelligence to save the taxpayers $3.7 billion by clawing back undeserved welfare payments. It ended this week with $2.1 billion going the other way.

It was supposed to use automated data-matching between Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office, to identify who was being overpaid. Robodebt would then issue invoices and the money would come back, all without the inefficiency of human intervention.