David Carter: ‘You’ve just got to suck it up’

Senior politician and former Speaker of the House, David Carter. Times photo Wayne Martin.

He’s a good mechanic. The last time seasoned politician and former Speaker of the House David Carter visited east Auckland he not only campaigned for the then aspiring National Party candidate for Pakuranga Simeon Brown but also fixed his wife Rebecca’s car which had broken down.

“Well, I am a farmer at heart. I should know how to fix things,” Mr Carteras told a SuperBlues (60+ National at heart) meeting hosted by Pakuranga MP Mr Brown.

The senior politician with a passion for agriculture touched on a range of topics including the time the government got rid of supplementary income and tax support for the farming community, which ironically contributed towards New Zealand lamb being a premium product all over the world.

“Prior to that New Zealand meat was underpriced but the shift helped the farming community to relook at the way they worked and reposition lamb in the export market,” said Mr Carter who hails from a family involved in politics for many decades.

His late father Maurice Carter was city councillor of Christchurch for 33 years and deputy mayor for another six.

For someone who loved his job as Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Forestry, Mr Carter admits he was taken aback when he was called on by former Prime Minister John Key and asked ‘what about being the Speaker of the House’.

And while he wasn’t too keen, he soon realised that saying no to the Prime Minister would put an end to any other chances of career advancement.

“I was nervous as hell when I started. It was the greatest challenge to be apolitical and divorce myself completely from the National Party,” said Mr Carter who now admits that being Speaker of the House was one of the best experiences of his life.

“It is a very isolating position and it’s important to have the respect of all parties.”

He clearly remembers the times he threw 17 people out and had to even ask his former boss Mr Key to leave the chamber.

“He was all wound up at question time and a bit of it was deliberate, I suspect.

“Mr Key was being quite abusive. So I had to make a call. It is important to have discipline. When the speaker rises to his feet, everyone’s microphones get cut off.

“I think that was the time the Labour Party finally saw me as being fair and giving every member of the Parliament a fair go,” said Mr Carter.

When asked if it is difficult to watch his successor perform in a very different style and how he copes with the inconsistency of decisions, he said: “You just got to suck it up.”