(6.30pm 29 November 2011, Lord Mayor's Reception Room, Sydney Town Hall)
Good evening, everyone, and welcome. 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.
I'm pleased you could be here this evening. Firstly, because it gives me an opportunity to personally thank you, and your organisations, for your support for Sydney New Year's Eve.
This is our premier event, broadcast around the world, projecting Sydney as the beautiful, creative, safe and innovative city it is. And as Events NSW has estimated, its economic value to the city is well over $150 million, giving an important boost to businesses both small and large.
But it would not, and could not, happen without your support, so on behalf of the City, heartfelt thanks to all of you.
I'm also glad you're here tonight because it gives you the opportunity to get a taste of the inspirational celebrations that have been planned for 2011 Sydney New Year's Eve.
For the first time, the City has engaged the local arm of the internationally renowned creative agency, Imagination, to develop the theme and to work with our own production team to take the event to a new level.
Imagination, as you probably know, have engaged the designer Marc Newson, who, in 2011, will bring his extraordinary skills to the mix. And of course we have the amazing Fortunato Foti once again devising a dazzling fireworks display.
In a moment, Heath Campanaro of Imagination will reveal some of this year's highlights.
I would just like to add that the Lord Mayor's Picnic, held in the Botanic Gardens in the lead-up to the 9pm Family Fireworks, continues as an important part of our celebrations. It gives 1,000 children with special needs the chance to celebrate with their carers in one of the most beautiful places in our City. And on their behalf, I thank you again for your support.
Finally, I'd like to say how proud I am that this event - which promotes Sydney to the world - is this year focusing on Australian creativity from start to finish. It's there through our creative team, through our in-house production team, and for the first time, through a musical soundtrack at midnight that is totally Australian - written by Australian composers and performed by Australian artists.
As we face the challenges that 2012 will undoubtedly bring, 2011 Sydney New Year's Eve is a timely reminder of the range of skills and breadth of creativity that we have right here in Sydney.
So once again, many thanks to all of you, and enjoy this evening.