This article describes the characteristics of a distinctively Australian paradigm of metropolitan planning which reflect circumstances of governance, infrastructure provision and concentration on suburban expansion into surrounding countryside. The resultant plans are detailed in their arrangement of land use and communications, comprehensive and long term. There are indications this paradigm may be changing as these dominating influences alter in character. Contemporary metropolitan strategic planning in Europe and America is overviewed to establish the distinctiveness of the Australian paradigm. Changes in plan-shaping forces are leading the emergence of a new European strategic spatial planning paradigm very different to Australia’s. Strategic spatial planning in the United States, while heterogeneous, has examples that reinforce the idea of an Australian paradigm in terms of the influence of governance structure and infrastructure agency on the level of spatial plan detail.