Officials from the Home Affairs, Finance and Attorney-General's departments, along with the Australian Electoral Commission, were asked on Friday who would take charge to counter any foreign interference campaigns on social media were they to occur.
Labor senator and Senate committee chair Jenny McAllister asked representatives from the agencies for the process but no one answer was the same.
Most answered it would be through the Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce, which sits within Home Affairs.
But the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce would also be interested, Attorney-General's Department assistant secretary Autumn Field said.
Ms Field said she was not aware of any information sharing protocols between the two but added that the same officials from her department sat on both taskforces.
Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers wrote in his submission to the committee it was not his role to determine the truth of electoral communications and political statements during the election period.
It was therefore not up to him or the electoral commission to counter disinformation campaigns, he said.
Instead, it would be up to one of the two taskforces.
Home Affairs assistant secretary Patrick Hallinan later said, however, disinformation campaigns would be brought to the attention of the Home Affairs taskforce, which would then advise the electoral commissioner.
Mr Hallinan said the commissioner could then decide what he would do and whether he would speak publicly about the issue.
"I'm not sure that I would accept the characterisation that it would be inconceivable for the electoral commissioner to be making a comment," he said.
"I think [Mr Rogers] would have a decision to make around what role he saw for himself in that set of circumstances publicly."
After failing to get a consistent response from officials, Senator McAllister said the answer might be more worrying - everyone was in charge.
"If everyone's responsible for everything, then in the end, no one's really responsible for it," she said.
"So, having a clear demarcation about whose job it is does matter."
Senator McAllister, who has chaired the committee since it was first established in December 2019, said she was concerned the government still didn't have a plan for tackling electoral interference from foreign actors.
A federal election is expected to be called in the coming months leading up to May next year.
"These are difficult questions, but this only that makes it more important for government to have good answers ahead of time," she told The Canberra Times on Friday after the hearing.
"The Morrison's government's failure to take foreign interference seriously means officials may have to make rushed decisions during the heat of an election campaign.
"This is a recipe for bad decisions, with potentially significant consequences for our democracy."
The inquiry is looking at the use of social media for purposes that undermine Australia's democracy and values, including through disinformation.
It's also looking at ways to reduce such risks and international responses to cyber foreign interference.
Senators have already heard from representatives of the major social media companies, including TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Google.
A final report is due to be delivered by mid-next year.
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