(10.30am, Thursday 23 May 2013, Lady Mayoress Room, Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you, Rod. Good morning, everyone, and welcome. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.
I especially welcome this morning His Excellency Li Huaxin, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney and the members of our Festival Advisory Group, chaired by Cr Robert Kok. And of course, a warm welcome to all our sponsors who make our Chinese New Year celebrations the great success that they are.
2013 - the Year of the Snake - was the 17th year of our Chinese New Year Festival. Now the largest Lunar New Year celebration outside mainland China, it also celebrates Sydney's fantastically diverse population, as well as our global connections, and our energy and creativity.
2013 also marked the seventh year that we hosted an official Chinese delegation. This time, we showcased Shenzhen as our partner city, a major city of the Guangdong province, and the brought a spectacular element to the Twilight Parade.
A new addition to the Twilight Parade this year were the fireworks which were fired off from buildings along the parade's route - Sydney can't get enough fireworks! And once again, the animated building projections along the parade route added a vibrant element.
The growing variety and vitality of the entire Festival is a great tribute to the work of our Festival Advisory Group and to the generosity of our sponsors.
There were more than 80 events this year, from the official launch and the markets to the Twilight Parade and the Dragon Boat races.
The City added a number of new events to this year's program, including the Dragon ball held here in Centennial Hall, the stimulating art exhibition, Snake Snake Snake, and Lunar Feasts, a food program with 13 of Sydney's Asian restaurants providing special meals throughout the Festival.
I'm am thrilled to see the Festival attracting such a wide range of ages and cultures - it is something Sydney has really taken to heart - and it will continue to build strong support and participation with its wonderful range of really high-calibre events.
The media coverage reflects its reach and impact. We've estimated that the total audience reached through print, radio and television coverage in Australia was more than 37.7 million, once again up from last year's figure.
So again, to everyone here, thank you for making our 2013 Chinese New Year Festival it not just possible, but an outstanding success.