Virus fears lead to scaled back parliament

Matt Coughlan and Rebecca Gredley
Health restrictions will be put in place to ensure federal parliament can operate next week

Public access will be limited to Australia's parliament next week when MPs and senators descend on Canberra to pass laws relating to coronavirus.

As part of the scaled-back version of parliament MPs and senators have been told to only bring essential staff to the national capital when sitting resumes next Monday.

Speaker Tony Smith and President of the Senate Scott Ryan have released a joint statement on Monday which confirms public areas and the marble foyer will remain open.

But each chamber of parliament won't be open to the public while school excursions and tours will be postponed or cancelled, in a bid to stop the disease spreading.

Lobbyists, former parliamentarians, volunteers and MPs from other parliaments will no longer have automatic access to private areas of Parliament House.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said parliament would focus on passing legislation to enable a $17.6 billion stimulus package and $2.4 billion of health funding.

Labor will back legislation relating to the government's stimulus package designed to boost the economy.

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese says he hasn't seen draft legislation and is yet to be contacted by anyone from the government about the changes to parliament.

"We're open to be cooperative but at the same time we do expect to be consulted," he told Sky News.

Parliamentary committees have been urged to transition to video hearings or teleconference as soon as possible.

Prior to the statement, a range of committee hearings including the sports rorts inquiry had been postponed indefinitely amid concerns about travelling.

Inquiry hearings set to occur at Parliament House next week will no longer be open to the public.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she would support cancelling next week's scheduled sitting of parliament.

"If Morrison is really concerned about this, and it is a huge gathering of people, I'd say close parliament down next week and just do the budget in May," Senator Hanson told the Nine Network on Monday.

Public gatherings of more than 500 people are banned from Monday as governments escalate efforts to stop coronavirus transmission.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce raised concerns politicians could spread the virus when they meet in Canberra.

"The worst thing you can do is have people who have come from around the country, who have shaken hundreds of hands, getting together, eating together, breathing together and all getting back on planes and spreading it around the country," he told 2GB radio.