The 30 million lines of code powering the Centrelink payment system could power 75 space shuttles.
Social Services Minister Scott Morrison made the comparison on Wednesday as he detailed the complexities of the welfare system and outlined proposals for its radical overhaul.
A "desperately-needed" computer upgrade is high on the list.
Unlike online pizza orders that can be monitored from the oven to the front door, the Centrelink system cannot provide real-time updates on welfare payment claims, he says.
The system was running on "Walkman-era" technology from 30 years ago when people were listening to Duran Duran, Morrison said.
"If all the information was printed on paper, the stack would almost double the height of Centrepoint Tower in my home town of Sydney," he told the National Press Club in Canberra.
The system spits out AU$290 million in payments every day at the rate of AU$12 million each hour.
It undertakes approximately 50 million daily transactions, processing 500-1000 transactions per second.