China Cultural Centre Inauguration

(5.30pm, Saturday 22 November 2014, 151 Castlereagh Street)

Thank you Li, [Zhao Li, MC] and good evening, everyone.

I am also honoured to welcome Mr Dong Wei, Vice Minister of Culture of China, to our City. We are very happy you could be here for this official inauguration.

This may be the launching ceremony of China Cultural Centre in Sydney but I know it has been running a terrific series of exhibitions, performances, talks and workshops since May.

It is a very welcome addition to the cultural life of Sydney, allowing new generations of Australian-Chinese to connect with the richness and diversity of Chinese culture.

At the recent memorial for our great former Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, speakers at Town Hall reflected on the many changes he made to our country.

One of the most important of all, of course, was his normalising of relations between Australia and China. We are still reaping the benefits of his courage and foresight.

Sydney has always had historic connections with China. But today, they are closer than ever.

People of Chinese ancestry now make up about six per cent of the population of metropolitan Sydney, and nearly 10 per cent of the City's population. After English, Chinese is now the most common language spoken at home.

The growing size and popularity of our annual Chinese New Year celebrations reflects not only the Chinese community's pride in its traditions but the fascination of the wider community with China and all that it has to offer.

In recent years, our partnerships with different Chinese cities and provinces - and the support of your own Ministry of Culture - have helped us build the festival into the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia. And we are very grateful for that support.

Next year, we are looking forward to celebrating the 30th anniversary of our Sister City relationship with Guangzhou. This was perhaps Sydney's first engagement with a Chinese city.

But on my recent visit to your country, I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit some of the cities we have come to know through our Chinese New Year celebrations and other exchanges.

As a city leader with a strong commitment to sustainability, I was deeply impressed by the great strides being made by Chinese city leaders and your central government in addressing issues of sustainability.

It is an example to our own Federal Government .

I learnt a great deal from that visit, and came back inspired.

I was also more convinced than ever of the importance of the ties between our cities.

Once again, it is my pleasure to welcome Mr Dong to Sydney and to congratulate the China Cultural Centre on the valuable role it is playing in our multi-cultural city.