The ministers responsible for the extraordinary robodebt settlement won't concede liability, so it'll be on voters to decide if a personal price ought to be paid.
It's desirable in the halls of power to draw a line and say that's in the past. From the government's perspective the Prime Minister has already apologised for "hurt and harm" back in June, $721 million was to be refunded, and with Tuesday's compensation package, a further $112 million will compensate some 400,000 affected welfare recipients.
Even with the now staggering budget blackhole from the whole affair, there is a greater chance of repercussions from "bonk ban" breaches than the questionable judgement that led to tuesday's agreement. Centrelink's income compliance scheme was, after all, intended to help rein in the welfare outlay and bring the budget back to black.
Inside policy circles, the risks of matching Centrelink's income declarations with ATO records were well-known. It was a predictable disaster with real consequences for people caught up in it. Data people knew it. Social policy people knew it. Tax officials knew it. Proceeding with so much doubt and concern from within their own ranks was a misjudgment.
In a more transparent and accountable democracy, Australians would not have to wait 20 years to learn to what degree federal cabinet ministers knew of and accepted the risks of it all going pear-shaped.
In the social services cluster there is no appetite to uncover if lives were lost due to robodebt. Former Centrelink boss and now Department of Social Services secretary Kathryn Campbell was animated in her July denial that of any knowledge about linked deaths. There was no promise of an investigation to answer that definitively.
In the wash after the Rudd-Gillard government, four deaths linked to Pink Batts were enough to spark a royal commission and an independent review of government processes by Professor Peter Shergold. The former PM&C boss's provocatively titled Learning from Failure report was a clarion call for empowering lower level executives to speak up about opportunities and risks, and not hanging them out to dry if things go wrong.
Ms Campbell is no low-level official. The highly experienced executive won't face any further setback to her career for having been in charge of the robodebt scheme's implementation. Nor will any of the ministers who oversaw or supported her efforts.
The government has moved on, satisfied that this isn't one of those "failures" that Professor Shergold pleaded to be treated as a learning opportunity. Grovelling apologies are for ministers caught with their pants down, not vindictive schemes that hurt 400,000 mostly poor people.
Robodebt is really a story of online activism, and filling those value-shaped holes in Australia's democracy. Four years ago, activists like Asher Wolf coined a hashtag, raised a banner and rallied people who may never have realised the government's demands were of questionable legal validity.
As Ms Wolf wrote in the Times earlier this year, it wasn't a person but an algorithm left with responsibility for the decision to allow purposely flawed accounting to wreak havoc on people's lives.
No liability, a one-time-only acknowledgement of hurt and harm, but a nine-figure compensation payout. The cost of this misjudgment is high, but it'll be paid by taxpayers only. If accountability isn't dead, it's at least on life support.