(22 February, Sydney Town Hall)
Lord Mayor Clover Moore,
Consul-General Li Huaxin,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you for the 2015 Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. At the outset, I would like to thank City of Sydney, Lord Mayor Moore and all those making the event possible.
Today is the fourth day of the Chinese lunar year of the Sheep. Sheep is a special animal and cultural symbol for both the Chinese and Australian. Sheep means happiness, harmony and good luck in Chinese traditions. It is also quite special in China-Australia relations. Most Chinese people of my generation got to know Australia by its famous folk song ‘Click Go the Shears’. When my daughter came to see me last year, the first thing she looked for was UGG boots. Australia used to be described as the ‘country riding on sheep’s back’.
2014 witnessed a fruitful year for China-Australia relations. H.E. Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a successful state visit to Australia, including this dynamic city Sydney. The visit elevated our bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and concluded the FTA negotiations. As the milestone visit opened a new chapter in our relations, both sides are committed to building an ever stronger China-Australia relationship for our common future.
From its very beginning as a small community event in Chinatown 18 years ago, the Chinese New Year Festival has grown to be one of the most well-known street carnivals of the Happy Chinese New Year Celebrations worldwide and contributed a lot to the cultural diversity of Australia.
For 10 consecutive years, visiting artists from China have joined local communities in Sydney to celebrate the festival. Their performances will certainly offer a perfect opportunity to showcase Chinese culture and deepen mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples.
I was deeply impressed by the parade last year as hundreds of thousands of people took to the street. I look forward to a great night out again.
May the year of the Sheep bring prosperity and good fortune to you all. Thank you.