Antipodean actor Guy Pearce has criticised the Australian government for refusing to apologise for the treatment of the country's Aboriginal population over the last two centuries.

Pearce stars in controversial new movie The Proposition, which contains scenes of colonialists murdering Aborigines, and is amazed contemporary politicians are not prepared to criticise the behaviour of their ancestors.

Pearce says, "It seems there's a lot of sweeping things under the carpet, even now. Our government was asked a couple of years ago to say sorry for what happened to the Aboriginal people and they wouldn't do it.

"I think that was a really sad thing."

Current Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly ignored pleas for an apology, saying today's Australians shouldn't have to say sorry for the actions of their ancestors.