(11am 31 December 2011, Dawes Point Reserve)
Good morning, everyone and welcome to our New Year countdown.
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 people of 200 nationalities who make up our City of Sydney, and who'll be celebrating tonight around this spectacular harbour.
I welcome Marc Newson, the creative director chosen by Imagination Australia, and Aneurin Coffey, our 2011 Sydney New Year's Eve producer who orchestrates this amazing event and Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CEO of CARE Australia.
It's only just over 12 hours to go for the 16th City of Sydney New Year celebration. This event takes 15 months to design, plan and prepare and costs the City $6.3million to produce. It's the largest, free community event in Australia and our gift to the people of Sydney.
The world-class pyrotechnics and eight-hours of entertainment works out at less than $4 for each person, while the economic benefits have been found by Events NSW research to total $156 million.
Marc chose Time to Dream as his theme - and it's something we all think about and imagine at the close of one year and the beginning of another.
His "endless rainbow" represents our city's rich cultural and demographic mix.
As you know, CARE Australia is our charity partner this year, and we have our first-ever New Year's Eve anthem - We are the Light - which will raise money for CARE Australia which has a long track record of providing swift and effective humanitarian aid to those who need it most.
I have established a Lord Mayor's Appeal for East Africa, which is facing its worst drought and food crisis in six decades estimating over 13 million drought-stricken people, mainly women and children, are in urgent need of help and are at risk of dying in the next four months without an increase in humanitarian aid.
If each person watching the 9PM Family Fireworks and the Midnight Fireworks Displays at Sydney Harbour were to donate just $1 to CARE, that would raise more than $1.5 million which could help save lives.
Another first is the all-Australian soundtrack which will accompany the Midnight Fireworks - it's a great way to lift the international profile of Australian music when an estimated one billion people around the world tune into to the Sydney celebrations.
For Sydneysiders tonight, tune your radio to 104.1 2DayFM to hear the synchronised soundtrack to the fireworks.
Our main message today is plan ahead for a safe, happy night; use public transport; don't take glass to the event and please put all your rubbish into the bins provided.
Above all, look out for yourselves and your friends, slip slop slap the sunscreen, and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Help us keep Sydney New Year's Eve unrivalled reputation as one of the world's happiest, safest, friendliest celebrations. And have a great night, everyone. Happy 2012!