Territories Minister Catherine King. Photo: Supplied
A powerful parliamentary committee will be given the green light to investigate the lack of shops in the parliamentary zone for the thousands of people who work there.
The inquiry will examine the demand for a minimart and other services, as workers in the zone face being slugged $2600 a year for parking.
To follow protocol, the joint standing committee on the national capital and external territories asked the Territories Minister Catherine King to authorise the inquiry.
Ms King wrote to the committee chairwoman, Senator Louise Pratt, on Friday asking her to conduct the inquiry and report by June 27.
The committee has been authorised to examine the adequacy of retail services available in the zone ''against the benchmark of like employment precincts'' in Canberra.
''Should these services be considered inadequate, [to] recommend steps that would ameliorate that inadequacy,'' the minister said.
The committee recently halted the construction of embassies in Stirling Park.
The latest move comes as politicians from both the federal Labor and Liberal parties have refused to support the plan for paid parking in the triangle unless better services are provided for public servants who work there.
They argue that public servants who work in the precinct do not have access to the same level of amenity as workers in areas such as Civic, and are forced to drive to work in order to access services including supermarkets and dry cleaners elsewhere during the working day.
The National Capital Authority will try to boost services in the zone and is encouraging cafe owners to become agents for dry cleaning and florists.
The National Portrait Gallery could be the first cultural institution with control of its car park to introduce paid parking after last week's budget decision to charge for parking in the parliamentary triangle.
National institutions in the parliamentary triangle are wrestling with imposing paid parking on their staff and volunteers or risk having free parks swamped with public servants.
Along with Parliament House, the four independent national institutions that control their own car parks - the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, High Court and War Memorial - face this dilemma.
The council of the War Memorial is expected to have preliminary discussions next week about paid parking, but a firm decision is not expected until later in the year.
The Portrait Gallery is expected to replace its honesty-based voucher system with paid parking to help visitors find a car space.
The cultural institution finds its underground car park is often jammed during the week, sparking complaints from potential visitors.
Part of the problem is workers from nearby offices who momentarily pretend to be interested in the gallery's exhibitions, to have their parking debt cleared.
Security guards are sometimes sent out to the gate to check who is arriving, especially in the mornings, but the gallery's limited resources mean that monitoring cannot be done continuously.
Director Louise Doyle said car parking is a big issue.
''We really need to make sure our visitors can get access, that's what we're here for,'' she said.
''I don't know what the board is going to decide. I would say it is inevitable, but I can't say when and I can't say how that would work because we haven't had any discussion.''