Commonwealth department employees, MPs and senators and their families won’t be subject to strict security checks at Parliament House as part of a one-year trial.
Following a review of security measures, Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Carol Mills said holders of government-issued photo ID cards would not be subjected to screening by metal detectors or X-rays at private entry points.
The public and all visitors entering through Parliament House’s main entrance will continue to be screened.
The trial will begin on May 19 and those exempted from metal detectors will be subject to random checks.
The exemption extends to members of other Australian Parliaments, nominated family members and political party officials.
“We do have a higher level of security screening than other Parliaments in Australia and a higher level of screening than most of the other even high-security government departments in Canberra,” Ms Mills said.
“There will be opportunities during the trial, if there were concerns, for the presiding officers to change [the arrangements] and on some days we may simply suspend it.
“If we had a major event here or a security incident we would change the arrangements on those days.”
Workers at Parliament House were notified of the changes via an internal email on Thursday morning.
Ms Mills said anyone entering without security screening will still be identified by Parliament House staff, ensuring entrants are using their own photo ID.
Journalists working at Parliament House won’t be exempted.
Ms Mills said occasional visitors and tourists would get through security checks more quickly as a result of the changes.
“They’ll get through quicker because even those who still have to be screened won’t get caught in a queue where multiple people in front of them have to go back and forward for rescreening.
“Everybody, regardless if they are exempt or not, will continue to be screened at the main public entrance.”
"It would be impractical for us to have exemptions operating in such a busy point of entry. If you’re entering in the private sections of the building, you will be able to move through the screening," she said.
As the changes free up security resources inside Parliament House, more guards will be placed on roaming patrols throughout the building.
Ms Mills said the review had found security in the 4700-room, 32-hectare site remained robust.
“We are moving to a more flexible model, rather than having more people screening those who are quite low risk because of the screening processes we go through in order to employ people anyway,” Ms Mills said.
The trial will include entry points from the public car park, the Senate and House of Representatives entrances and ministerial entrances.
A review of the changes will take place early next year.