08/06/2004 - 22:00

van Merwyk’s passion

08/06/2004 - 22:00


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TONY van Merwyk is passionate about his work.

van Merwyk’s passion

TONY van Merwyk is passionate about his work.

His dedication to, and enthusiasm for, the task at hand have guided him to the top of Freehills’ environment and planning practice, a role his peers obviously believe he executes well.

Mr van Merwyk has won the environment and planning category of WA Business News’ Legal Elite two years in a row.

He believes his success comes from working on what he has passion for.

“The best part about my job is that I can chart my own destiny,” he told WA Business News.

And, as a co-owner of Must Winebar, he gets to enjoy the spoils of being one of the State’s best liquor licensing lawyers, while also flying across the country for environment and planning work.

“I own a wine bar, I get to fly to Exmouth to do environment impact assessments, and I get to fly to Melbourne and Brisbane every couple of months. Yeah, it’s good fun,” he said.

“I do my own thing and I encourage others to do that. I have complete choice over it. I can come in and do greenhouse work or mining work. It’s up to me.

“I’ve been offered jobs all over the place, over east and in Perth, but I’ve stayed because I’m in a position to chart my own course at Freehills.

“I could go out on my own, but what happens if I have a client that wants to start a new iron ore mine? There’s the chance that I wouldn’t be involved because the big jobs go to the big firms. I wouldn’t be able to do the commercial contracts, Native Title, occupational health and safety, tax. But at Freehills we have all of those.”

Mr van Merwyk started Freehills’ environment and planning practice in 1987 (originally with Parker & Parker, which merged with Freehills in 1997). The business has grown to now employ seven people.

Recent work includes impact and planning assessments for Ningaloo Reef and the Burrup Peninsula.

“Planning has always been solid but environment work is growing,” Mr van Merwyk said.

“It’s growing because of community expectations, both in terms of how they will be involved, and they expect to be involved in a meaningful way, as well as the community being better educated. They can get involved in a meaningful way, so that usually means more work for the companies, and yes, more work for us.

“One of the challenges is to have systems in place so that the tough decisions get made to say ‘yes this goes ahead’ or ‘no this doesn’t’.

“It’s about making decision makers more efficient.”

Mr van Merwyk is also one of the State’s top liquor licensing lawyers, an area that is also growing in demand.

“The reason we do environment, planning, and liquor licensing is because usually where there is any development there will be environmental impacts and where there are developments there is often the need for a liquor licence,” he said.


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