Canberra occupies a unique position in the Australian urban landscape. It is the national capital and the largest inland city. Internationally and at home, it is also known as a planned city. This study moves beyond the entrenched perception of Canberra as a planned capital city. It situates Canberra in the Australian urban system through the lens of a new model of urban competitiveness that incorporates dimensions of productivity, sustainability and liveability. Through benchmarking Canberra’s progress against other Australian major cities, the results provide a comprehensive understanding of Canberra’s competitiveness in the national context. They identify Canberra’s competitive strength and weakness, and provide evidence-based implications for policy-making towards a productive, sustainable and liveable Canberra and its enhanced competitiveness.