Australia apologised to its indigenous people yesterday in a national Sorry Day aimed at acknowledging the mistreatment of Aborigines during more than two centuries of settlement. But while many people accepted the invitation to make amends for the country's past mistakes by signing more than 1,000 'Sorry' books, the Government refused to join what it sees as a carefully orchestrated, politically correct response to a regrettable side of Australian history. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron made it clear there would be no formal apology from the Government. He insisted it was not necessary to issue an apology to achieve reconciliation with the country's indigenous people. It was a view shared by several state government leaders including the Premier of Western Australia, Richard Court, who said the national Sorry Day would not help to foster understanding. 'I believe it's an unfortunate day,' he admitted. 'I'm a strong supporter of Reconciliation Week, but many Australians feel that they are in a way being forced to show some guilt and some people don't feel any guilt.' Although Mr Court agreed to sign a Sorry book, he believed others should not feel compelled to do so. Elsewhere, however, national Sorry Day events produced a genuine outpouring of remorse. Judges, councillors, police chiefs, vice-regal representatives and thousands of ordinary citizens apologised for the sins of earlier Australians. The Governor of New South Wales, Gordon Samuels, said: 'Without honest acknowledgement of the wrongs and injustices of the past, we cannot successfully move together into a just, fair and secure future.' The Chief Justice of Australia's Family Court called on the judiciary to apologise to the 'stolen generation' - the thousands of Aboriginal children taken from their families by well-meaning welfare groups in the post-war years, in another shameful chapter in Australian history.