Live sheep exporters have been ordered to check their animals are being properly slaughtered amid claims thousands of animals are being cruelly handled in Jordan and Kuwait.
The Federal Government warning comes as newly elected Federal Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan questions whether Australia should end the live sheep trade to the Middle East, saying the animals were being shipped under "pretty horrific" conditions.
The Department of Agriculture confirmed it had received complaints that Australian sheep had "leaked" from certified slaughterhouses in the two countries and were being sold on roadsides ahead of a major religious festival, Eid.
Under laws introduced by the Gillard government in the wake of its live cattle ban to Indonesia, all live exporters are required to provide proof their animals will be humanely slaughtered. But Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has hinted several times he would like to water down the laws, saying they impose too much red tape on exporters.
The department said it had received complaints from activist group Animals Australia of breaches of the so-called Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System.Ms MacTiernan said Australia should consider ending the live trade to the Middle East because the animals were often kept at sea for long periods under grim conditions. But she stopped short of calling for an end to the live trade to Indonesia, saying the situation there was more "complex".