Before entering politics, Carter worked as a local government administration official.
|42nd||Bay of Islands||National|
|43rd||Bay of Islands||National|
Carter was elected to Parliament in the 1987 elections, winning the Bay of Islands electorate. He has remained an MP for that area since then, although the seat was called Far North in 1993 and is now called Northland. When the National Party came to power in the 1990 elections, Carter became the Junior Government Whip, and then Senior Government Whip until 1995 and again from 1996 to mid-2004.