An Auckland barrister has launched a scathing attack on Justice Minister Simon Power, including a dig at his inexperience as a lawyer.

Charles Cato also criticised Dame Margaret Bazley's report on the legal aid system, saying politicians such as Mr Power were encouraging a public perception that defence lawyers should be regarded with disdain.

He took the dig at Mr Power's short time in the law before entering politics, saying previous justice ministers Sir Douglas Graham and the late Dr Martyn Finlay, QC, "had practised law and in the courts [and] were more receptive to us than those who have not had that experience". Mr Cato said Dame Margaret's report did not show adequate respect for the relentless work of defence lawyers.

He made the comments in a speech to the Criminal Bar Association which is published in the Auckland District Law Society's latest Law News newsletter.

Mr Cato also criticised Mr Power's abolition of the defence of provocation after the controversy over Clayton Weatherston's use of it for Sophie Elliott's murder.

"Justice Minister Simon Power certainly likes to be seen to flex his muscles. In abolishing provocation, he put an end to 300 years of experience and practice."

Mr Cato said abolishing the defence was "downright foolish" and taken in haste so Mr Power could look good to the public.

"This is the very antithesis, in my view, of a rational and measured approach to law reform.

"You do not do away with long-standing common law principles overnight."

Yesterday, Mr Power was questioned in Parliament about Dame Margaret's claim that up to 80 per cent of the lawyers in the Manukau District Court were "gaming the system".

He said he would not apologise for any damage to the reputations of lawyers who practise at the courts because Dame Margaret was open about her report being based on anecdotal evidence "across the court system".

Mr Power said he would be happy to meet Manukau lawyers.

Labour MP Lianne Dalziel asked if Mr Power was concerned that Dame Margaret had sat on the Legal Services Agency's risk management committee between 2005 and 2008, when the system was failing.

The minister said he had great faith in Dame Margaret's independence.