A top spy chief has warned "very alarming signs" in Australia's backyard could see the country's intelligence agencies rise in the global pecking order as the Five Eyes alliance turns its focus to China. Australian Secret Intelligence Service director-general Paul Symon, who is set to retire this year, also said politicians on all sides were beginning to understand there was "no turning back" on budget commitments for national security. Speaking at an event hosted by ANU's National Security College earlier this week, the top intelligence official alluded to China's more assertive posturing in the region as "very alarming". The evolving situation could result in Australia rising in the "batting order" in its intelligence-sharing alliance with the US, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada, Mr Symon said. "I could well see a situation where that relative importance, the priority, the resources that are assigned to the human intelligence agencies actually reflect that the Cold War is over," he said. "We're still managing terrorism, people smuggling, kidnapped Australians and other issues. "But our primary focus is China. Its behaviour, its actions, and trying to understand and reveal the gap - the delta - between what's being said, and what's actually happening on the ground." The former defence intelligence director added he'd also seen both the major political parties grow to accept the world's "settings are changing" and Australia can't keep "swimming against the tide". Mr Symon said Labor would traditionally prefer to spend money on health, education and childcare and the Liberals prefer not to intervene in market issues but both had to sacrifice ideologies for the sake of keeping the country safe. "Our political parties are also recognising there is no turning back," he told the invite-only audience. "The situation demands that some of those philosophical underpinnings have to be subdued, because responsible national security decision-making demands it." READ MORE: The Albanese government's first budget last week made no major spending pledges toward bolstering national security. It is, however, going forward with the former Coalition government's plans to build a National Security Office Precinct next to Parliament House under a project predicted to cost more than a billion dollars. Tensions in the Indo-Pacific region have been rising in recent years with the European Union and the United States ramping up their focus to counter China's influencing efforts. Australia's military and intelligence agencies are receiving more international attention as like-minded partners look to re-engage with Pacific nations. Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier this year warned China's military build-up in the area had been "occurring at a rate unseen since World War II", adding the trilateral security deal with the US and the UK, AUKUS, was a deterrent. "For a three ocean nation, the heart of deterrence is undersea capability. AUKUS will not only make Australia safer, it will make Australia a more potent and capable partner," Mr Marles said in July. "That the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to work with Australia to meet our needs is not only a game-changer, it illustrates why alliances help reinforce, not undermine, our country's national sovereignty."