The government remains without a lead agency charged with tackling electoral interference during the upcoming federal election, a Labor senator has warned.
Fresh off being nominated the parliamentary intelligence and security committee's new deputy chair, Senator Jenny McAllister said she wasn't convinced the government was prepared to tackle foreign interference in an election setting.
The lack of clarity on which agency would take responsibility could lead to decisions being made on the fly, she said in comments made on a National Security College podcast released Thursday.
"This is something the government could fix," she said.
"Quite simply, I think all of the agencies are aware of the risks, they are thinking about them.
"But what's required is some leadership from the top to really bring this to a close and to identify which agency is going to take the lead and to define the scope of their responsibilities."
It comes months after the senator failed to get a clear answer from Home Affairs, Finance and Attorney-General's department officials.
Two taskforces, the Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce and the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce, had been set up in the field.
But when asked which agency took the lead, the answer varied depending on what the mis- or disinformation campaign was trying to achieve.
While the two taskforces share some members, senior figures said they weren't aware of information sharing protocols between them.
Home Affairs Department secretary Mike Pezzullo attempted to clarify further this week in an estimates hearing.
He said it was a bit like taking on a proverbial elephant.
"Someone's got the trunk, someone's got the tail, someone's got the ears," he said on Tuesday.
"[Home Affairs] plays a partner role - we don't administer the Electoral Act, we support the Department of Finance and the AEC."
Beyond the possible foreign interference threat in the upcoming election, the senator said she was focused on also ensuring national security agencies had better oversight.
She said national security agencies had been given additional powers and scope over the years but watchdogs, like the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, remained relatively the same size and with the jurisdiction.
"We've seen very significant change in the national security architecture under this government, but almost no change in the oversight arrangements," she told college head Professor Rory Medcalf.
"And I think that's a problem."
In a private member's bill, she plans to propose changes to the oversight architecture, allowing the intelligence committee to initiate its own motions and refer operational concerns directly to the IGIS.
"[The IGIS] is an immensely important part of the oversight architecture but that institution reports to the executive it doesn't report to the parliament," Senator McAllister said.
The changes would also mean issues referred to the IGIS would be reported back to the committee, rather than the government.
Stronger assurances and more public work, where possible, are the main changes the Labor senator wants to see.
She said it was key to countering the decay in trust of officials the world was facing.
"We try and do as much of our work in public as we can," she said.
"It really matters because I think the Australian public need to see that security agencies, government agencies are willing to come into a public forum and explain the way that they approach security questions
"I think we have to grapple with the fact that trust in politics and parliamentarians is declining."