Australia's security system needs an urgent revamp to combat morphing cyber threats and an increasingly assertive China, a new report says.
A policy paper released by the Australian National University has called for a new minister for intelligence to co-ordinate the effort, which now required input from at least 16 agencies and departments.
Security-cleared advisors should also be allocated to key MPs to ensure they could discuss classified material in-depth, it said.
A legal background for MPs was common, which report author William Stoltz, policy advisor at the ANU's National Security College, said would be valuable for an intelligence minister.
But he argued an MP with operational experience in the Defence Force or intelligence agencies would be particularly beneficial.
"They would be able to have a sense of the real-world implications of these decisions. A lot of parliamentarians often struggle to get their head around the actual operational impact of these laws," he said.
The new minister - a junior or assistant minister - would sit on the National Security Committee under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The current system included the Director-General National Intelligence and National Security Advisor, both public servants, but Dr Stoltz argued national security policy was an "inherently political thing".
He said having a minister tasked with lobbying the crossbench would reduce the chance of independent bureaucrats being dragged into political stoushes. And with the prospect of minority government looming, he warned long-held bipartisanship on national security was not guaranteed.
"We're heading into a pretty dicey, uncertain security environment in the coming years," he said.
"It's going to be even more important that parliamentarians understand and feel that they have an influence over these big national security decisions, because there's always the possibility that someone decides to make political capital out of it."
Communication with MPs on national security has proven contentious, with crossbenchers in August accusing the major parties of ramming through new spy powers without adequate consultation.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security endorsed the laws, giving the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to collect data on Australians onshore, despite having less than a week to consider them.
To assist PJCIS members making decisions in high-pace environments, the report also called for National Intelligence Committee agencies to provide staff with high-level clearance on secondment to the committee's Secretariat.
At least one security-cleared advisor should also be allocated to each PJCIS member's office, it recommended.
Dr Stoltz argued the PJCIS members were hampered by an inability to discuss briefings with staff, who often lacked adequate clearance, and the prospect of information being passed to them was a concern.
"The sheer range and complexity of subject matter that that committee now has to consider is quite ridiculous, really," he said.
"It's the full gambit of technology issues intersecting with national security, as well as the geopolitical complexities.
"Unless they are coming at these issues from some kind of previous professional experience in the national security community, they are facing a real uphill battle to be able to get their head around the subject matter and then actually apply proper scrutiny."
The report also suggested the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor become a full-time role, and have sufficient funding to support and advise the PJCIS.
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