Sydney Writer's Festival Launch 2015

(6.30pm, Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay)

Thank you, Jo [Dyer, exec director]. Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the launch of the 2015 Sydney Writers' Festival.

Sydney does festivals and festivities well - we've acquired an international reputation for it. But the Sydney Writers' Festival I think is one of our best.

It shows a Sydney that is open to ideas, and open to the world, that welcomes the opportunity to explore diverse views and listen to other voices.

The Canadian writer Alberto Manguel has argued that reading has an ethical value because it obliges us to understand the experiences of others, to make that leap of the imagination into the lives of others.

Together, writing and reading help build community which is at the foundation of our urban lives, the very reason people come together in cities.

So we're proud that the Sydney Writers' Festival has grown to be the most significant annual literary event in Australia, and one of the largest in the world.

The theme for this year's festival - "How to Live" - will be reflected on by the 400-plus Australian presenters and over 45 international guests. Those international guests reflect Sydney's multi-cultural outlook and heritage: they come from China, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Israel, the US and UK, Germany, Canada and Sweden.

The Festival audiences are equally diverse, drawn from across the city, and they will meet in venues around the city centre, northern Sydney, western Sydney and in the Blue Mountains.

We will be hosting a series of children's workshops at our City libraries and we're delighted that once again venues including Town Hall and the City Recital Hall, as well as the fabulous Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst, will be hosting talks and discussions.

So we look forward to this year's Festival in all its variety and richness.