(January 30 2012, Sydney Town Hall)
All of Sydney has been looking forward to participation in Festival of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province.
It is 12 years since the last Year of the Dragon. It is exciting to see how much our Chinese New Year has grown in size and stature in those 12 years. This year, we have a wonderful photographic retrospective, showing the past 12 years of the Chinese New Year Parade.
Our central business district and surrounding city villages are decorated with the colours and lucky symbols of the Chinese New Year
There has been a lot of publicity about Chinese New Year and the Chengdu visit since the very successful media delegation to Chengdu led by Cr Kok.
The parade last night was a stunning success and the giant panda float from Chengdu was a big hit with everyone. This year has been our biggest parade so far, with almost 3,000 participants - including the team from Chengdu with the spectacular Fire Dragon. Note that the Parade finished with fireworks at Darling Harbour and a new feature this year were the light projections on buildings along the parade route.
We could see that Sydney really enjoyed the performers from Chengdu in the parade last night, and after this, I am sure many Sydney-siders and Australians will be inspired to visit Chengdu.
Adam Liew, one of our Chinese New Year Ambassadors, and a 2010 MasterChef winner, will be taking part in cooking demonstrations at the Festival Markets. He was also featured in one of the City of Sydney floats in last night's parade. Sydney will enjoy the famous hot and spicy food from Sichuan Province as a highlight of the Festival.
I'm looking forward to the Sydney-Chengdu Business Forum at the Hilton today and learning of how Sydney and Chengdu can continue to strengthen economic exchange opportunities. The forum will include a number of very important leaders from government and the business sector, both from Australia and Chengdu.
I know the Deputy Lord Mayor is looking forward to the Gala Night of the Dynamic Chengdu to be held at Town Hall tonight. This is a very special, one-off performance that will give us some idea of the rich cultural history and traditions of western China.
This year, we have a new event on the Festival calendar with the Red Gate Gallery exhibition of 10 internationally acclaimed Red Gate artists who have each nominated a young emerging artists to exhibit alongside them. It will provide a unique celebration of Red Gate's 20 year history.