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David Carter was born in Christchurch in 1952. He was educated at St Bede’s College and completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Lincoln in 1973. He was involved in New Zealand’s first cattle embryo transplant company. He was a farmer and businessman and still farms in Canterbury.

David was elected to the Selwyn electorate in 1994 in a by-election. From 1996 to 1999 he represented Banks Peninsula and since then has been in the House on the party list. He was junior whip 1996-1998 and chairman of the Finance and Expenditure Committee 1998-1999. In 1998-1999 he was Minister outside Cabinet for Senior Citizens and held a number of Associate Minister roles: Revenue; Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control; and Education (1999).

In Opposition his spokesperson roles have included finance, agriculture, tourism and housing. His more recent ministerial portfolios have been Minister of Agriculture 2008-2011, Minister of Biosecurity 2008-2011, Minister of Forestry 2008-2011, Minister for Primary Industries 2011-2013, and Minister for Local Government 2012-2013.

David was Speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives from 31 January 2013 until October 2017.

David is an active member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Committee on Human Rights for Parliamentarians charged with investigating human rights abuses of elected representatives.