Korea Town Lunar New Year Festival

(10.15am 28 January 2012, Pitt Street between Liverpool and Bathurst)

Thank you, Brian Kim, MC. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the first Korea Town New Year Festival!

I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city - including, of course, the 130,000 Koreans who live in the Sydney area.

I also would like to acknowledge Mr Jin Soo Kim, Consul-General of the Republic of Korea and Mr Byung Il Kim, president of the Korean Community.

The Lunar New Year celebrations have become an important part of Sydney life, and it has been good in more recent years to welcome our Korean and Vietnamese communities to the festivities.

Sydneysiders as a whole - not just our Asian communities - have embraced the celebrations with enthusiasm, as I'm sure you will see at tomorrow night's Twilight Parade.

Now this first Sydney Korea Town New Year Festival brings a new dimension to the festival. It is evidence of the growing importance of the Korean community and its many contributions to the richness and diversity of our city life.

There are over 300 Korean businesses in the city, many of them centred around this area which is indeed becoming a real "Korea Town". It is a thriving centre and its vitality and energy is evident around the clock.

That same vitality and energy is also evident here today as the Festival reveals to Sydney a taste of both the traditional and the exciting modern culture of Korea. I'm pleased that it will also act as a showcase of Sydney to the people of Korea, with coverage of the Festival going to television networks in Korea.

As an annual event, it also promises to promote and encourage indigenous and local artists, and in doing that it will provide valuable stimulus to the already-rich social and cultural life of our city.

I congratulate everyone involved in conceiving and organising this exciting new event on the Sydney calendar. I welcome all our visitors and wish you a wonderful day. And I wish everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

It is a great pleasure to officially open the first annual Sydney Korea Town New Year Festival.