National Architecture Awards

6.30pm, Thursday 7 November 2013, Sydney Opera House)

It's a pleasure to welcome you all to Sydney and to this extraordinary building. Where better to celebrate architecture and all it can mean to us, to celebrate all the ways in which it can inspire, enrich and even shape, our cities and our lives.

For 40 years now, the Opera House has stood as our high-water mark of achievement and, in a most profound way, as an expression of our identity as people of this time and place.

It stands also as a perpetual challenge to reach for our best, and to honour in the built form and spaces of our city the god- or nature-given beauty of our topography and harbour and bushland.

Since 2004, the City of Sydney has striven for design excellence and sustainability, conscious always of our responsibility for this wonderful place, for the much-loved legacies of its past, and for its future.

We have been fortunate to have a great design team at the City under the leadership of Graham Jahn and to have had access to some of the country's finest design minds through our Design Advisory Panel. We are also blessed with the skills and the passion of the many, many gifted architects, designers and artists who practise in our city.

Together, we are creating our legacy buildings and places for the 21st century. That collaboration has brought us no less than 40 national and international awards in areas ranging from design excellence to sustainability to heritage and conservation.

Our most recent honour, the 2013 Sulman Medal, was won by Collins and Turner for our Waterloo Youth Centre while the Pitt Street Mall upgrade by Tony Caro Architecture won an award in the Urban Design category.

I'm confident that our planned new Green Square library and plaza by Stewart Hollenstein will also be recognised in the future as another outstanding contribution to life in Sydney.

So tonight, on your big night of the year, can I salute you all, and thank you for all you have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to making our city the best place it possibly can be.

Thank you, and have a great night, everyone and I am sorry I can't stay to see all the awards as tonight I am also presenting the Sydney Peace Prize.