Max Hipkins is a qualified town planner and architect from the University of Melbourne. He has also completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from the Western Australian Institute of Technology and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Washington. He has spent most of his professional life consulting to the government and private sectors, both in Australia and overseas. He started his own business, Max Hipkins and Associates, in 1976. For three years he was Chairman of Directors of Davyhurst Mining NL. He joined local government in the late 1990s, as Director of Planning Services at the City of Nedlands, before moving on to be Director of Planning at the City of Perth. At Perth, he was responsible for master planning of the City, which included gateway scenarios and projects for the Perth Waterfront and lowering of the central railway tracks.
Max has been a foundation member of the Swan River Trust, national Chair of the Australian Institute of Urban Studies and president of the Local Government Planners Association. He is currently a member of the Council, and is a past member of the Executive, of the National Trust of Australia (WA) and CityVision.
Max was made a Knight of The Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem in 2005. For five years he served as treasurer of this charity that assists the sick and the needy. Major projects of the group have been raising funds for the SAS Resources Trust, which helps widows and dependents of fallen servicemen, and the Autism Association of WA.
He actively participates in local sporting clubs and events. Max is also a member of the Rotary Club of Freshwater Bay, which presently raises funds for a variety of projects including eradication of polio worldwide, provision of microscopes to primary schools throughout Australia and assistance to Dreamfit Foundation – WA makers of recreation equipment for the disabled.
Max is the previous Mayor of the City of Nedlands. He became a Councillor at a by-election in 2008, on a platform of protecting the quality of his suburb from unrealistic planning proposals for Waratah Avenue – continuous mixed use of four and five storey development on both sides of the street for over a kilometre was proposed. He organised two walks of the area and a public meeting attended by hundreds of people, which led directly to the forming of People Against Density Dalkeith (PADD). In a matter of weeks, PADD raised over $30,000 and gained a membership of over 650 people, comprising representatives from more than half the households in Dalkeith. In response the Council formed the Dalkeith Redevelopment Area Steering Committee and, over a nine-month period, met weekly with residents to finalise an agreed plan for Waratah Avenue. Unfortunately the then Minister for Planning subsequently instructed the Council to change an amendment to the local town planning scheme to permit an additional two levels of development in Waratah Avenue, despite strong opposition from the local community.
As a Councillor, Max applied his planning and design skills to assessment of development applications, policy preparation, strategy formulation, conservation of heritage assets and State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) reviews. He has championed the value of Nedlands as a quality residential area and argued against inappropriate amalgamation with adjoining local governments.
At the regular local government election in October 2009, Max was returned with an increased majority and elected by his fellow Councillors as Deputy Mayor, a position he held until October 2011 when he was elected Mayor. As Mayor Max worked full time to further the interests of local residents, gaining more money for the arts and road maintenance, assisting bushcare and sustainability groups and devoting energy to resolving long standing issues at Swanbourne and Sunset Hospitals and the Regis aged care site.
Max believes pressures to amalgamate local governments would force disparate communities together, reduce elected member representation and increase costs. Bigger local authorities are also likely to attract the party system, where political parties would choose candidates, not electors, as has happened in the eastern states. Max has seen the government ignore widespread community concern over loss of what were considered to be permanent parklands, the most obvious example being the heritage-listed Perth Esplanade and waterfront. He has witnessed government indifference to community submissions. He has also confronted interference with and overriding of local government decision making, particularly with the introduction of Development Assessment Panels (DAPs) and imposition of Local Planning Scheme No. 3.
Max is happily married to Merran and has three adult children. The family has lived in Nedlands for over 20 years. His family is fully supportive of Max’s involvement in community affairs.
James, Sarah, Merran, Max