The COVID-19 outbreak in Australia led to a period of economic crisis. In response, Commonwealth and State Governments targeted the construction sector for concentrated economic stimulation. Planning systems, and their reform, were identified as levers to stimulate economic activity. This paper explores early COVID-19-initiated planning system reforms in New South Wales and Western Australia. It explores key reforms in each state and provides a comparative analysis of reform objectives, the influence of key stakeholders, reform innovations and possibilities for future reform. COVID-19-induced reforms emerge as both the continuation of the long-term reform agenda and reactionary interventions to immediate economic challenges.