Western Australia has a mature metropolitan planning system. Its latest product, 'Planning for the future of the Perth metropolitan region', is a good example of a metropolitan plan. Planning has achieved predictability and orderliness in metropolitan development, but the actual results fall far short of what is possible. A fundamental barrier preventing this system being used effectively is a failure, by planners, to understand the role of the state in managing metropolitan development. By understanding its role as the regulatory agency of the property industry, and by embracing the creative opportunities offered by statutory planning, the metropolitan planning body could - if it seeks change - be much better equipped to achieve broader objectives.