Labour MP
Minister for the Environment
Minister for Trade and Export Growth
Associate Minister of Finance

Born in Roxburgh in 1960, David grew up in Dunedin and has a BCom (Acctg) and LLB from the University of Otago.

He was a litigation and managing partner in law firm Anderson Lloyd and was a co-founder of the Dunedin Community Law Centre.

David is an experienced CEO and company director in a range of industries and has experienced both success and failure. He was involved in a number of start-up businesses in the agri-biotechnology field including A2 Milk, and BLIS Technologies which he managed from start-up to the main board of the NZX.

He held various Ministerial portfolios in the last Labour-led Government including Attorney-General, Energy, Climate Change, Transport, Land Information and State Services. In 2008 he was named by the Listener magazine as Environmentalist of the Year for his work as Minister of Energy and Climate Change. He pioneered New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme, then described by many as the most significant environmental reform in NZ for decades.

In opposition his roles included Deputy Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party and spokesperson on Finance, Trade and Export Growth.

After the 2017 election, David was named a minister in the Jacinda Ardern-led government. He was appointed Attorney-General, Minister for Economic Development, Environment, Trade and Export Growth, and Associate Minister of Finance but Minister Phil Twyford assumed the Economic Development role in a minor reshuffle in July.
He maintains strong interests in the protection of civil liberties, as well as economic and environmental policy.

David pursues policies which both enhance economic growth and address the growing extremes between rich and poor in New Zealand, while protecting the environment.
David is a keen tramper and skier.

Speech Abstract


The resource management system takes too long, costs too much, and has not properly protected the environment. This Government is committed to addressing this.

In July 2019, the Government launched a plan to comprehensively overhaul the resource management system. The review will address urban development, environmental bottom lines, and effective – but not overly complex – participation, including by Māori. I truly believe that if, with all our advantages, New Zealand can’t overcome its environmental problems, then the world won’t. Our Resource Management System is pivotal to achieving that.

However, there are a number of targeted improvements to the current Resource Management Act that cannot wait. In addition to the resource management system reform, the Government has a wide-ranging and ambitious work programme to improve the current resource management system, including new national direction for highly productive land, urban development, indigenous biodiversity, and freshwater.

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