The Foreign Affairs Ministry gave the Government advice about the situation in Afghanistan but did not make a recommendation either way about whether troops should be sent, Parliament was told today.

The Government recently decided to send 70 SAS troops to Afghanistan for 18 months in three rotations, the fourth time they will have been deployed there.

New Zealand will eventually pull out its 140 defence force personnel running a provincial reconstruction team operating in Bamiyan province, who have been there since 2003.

Foreign Affairs Secretary John Allen at the weekend said it had not advised the government to send the SAS.

"We were asked for advice in relation to that decision along with a variety of other departments," he said.

"The advice, obviously, is that Afghanistan is important to New Zealand, it's important that we continue our effort to stabilise that country."

In Parliament today Labour leader Phil Goff asked Prime Minister John Key what advice he had got.

"...no specific view was ever provided to me by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on whether to redeploy the SAS," Mr Key said.

"That decision was left to ministers."

Mr Goff raised concerns about security problems in Afghanistan and the resurgence of Al Qaeda influence.

"Is the Prime Minister prepared to see New Zealand lives put at risk to defend a regime that is known to be endemically corrupt, that is widely suspected of huge electoral fraud in the recent election, that is working today in conjunction with warlords known to have committed gross human rights abuses, and is known to be linked to criminal groups involved in drug trafficking; if so, why did he make the decision to recommit SAS troops?"

Mr Key said the government decided the best way to avoid the return of a Taleban regime was to send forces.

Labour prefers retaining the Bamiyan personnel.

When Mr Key started to remind Mr Goff of previous remarks when Labour sent the SAS to Afghanistan he could not say what year when asked.

"I am sorry, my little chipmunks, I do not know, but I will get the year and come back to you," he retorted.

"Anyway, this is what Phil Goff said when he deployed the SAS to Afghanistan. He said that their presence, together with other international forces, had been 'critical both to constrain the influence of Al Qaeda and Taleban elements and to allow nation-building and reconstruction to take place.' Nothing has changed."

Mr Goff said a lot had changed in the past three years.

- NZPA