(6pm, Ros Packer Theatre, Hickson Road Walsh Bay)
Thank you, Jo, [Dyer, MC] and good evening, everyone. Welcome to the 2015 Sydney Writers' Festival.
It may be held over just one week, but this annual festival in May gives us food for thought and matters to debate for months to come.
The 2015 festival is no exception, with some of our most revered writers from around Australia and from overseas speaking on aspects of life and literature; there's a program of talks on Curiosity; another program for children and young people; discussions on subjects such as the changing nature of publishing and how it affects what and how we read.
The richness and variety of the festival program is a wonderful reflection of the richness and diversity of Sydney. And in the spirit of Sydney, it remains very accessible, with many of its hundreds of events free of charge.
Last year, we launched our Creative City policy and action plan, aimed at strengthening and enriching a uniquely "Sydney" culture. In the excitement it creates, in the quality of its offerings, in its inclusive and accessible ambience, Sydney Writers Festival embodies many of the qualities we seek for our Creative City.
And so we are proud to be a long-term supporter of the festival, and we're flying our colours in Sydney's busiest precinct, the Pitt Street Mall, with a giant billboard quoting Matt Haigh's wonderful words from Reasons to Stay Alive.
It's a great collaboration between the City, the developers and the Festival and it's getting people talking.
We also will be hosting festival events at Town Hall, the City Recital Hall, our beautiful Eternity Playhouse and at Kings Cross and Haymarket libraries.
Books will draw people to those venues, to here at Walsh Bay and to sites across greater Sydney - and this year, for the first time, via live-streaming to sites across NSW.
Who said the book is dead!
So to all of you - the writers, readers, thinkers and story-tellers who make this festival of books, words and ideas the fabulous celebration that it is - a very warm welcome.
Have a wonderful Writers' Festival in 2015.