Whether Peter Reith and the Howard government did actually 'stop the boats' is contestable.
That the policy to 'stop the boats' caused misery, loss of life, loss of face, corroded our national reputation irreversibly, made the international community think of Australia as a bunch of redneck racists, reneged on our international obligation as signatories to the UN Refugee Convention and poisoned the welcoming and compassionate heart of Australia is, in my opinion, undeniable. And unforgiveable.
(LATE EDIT! I forgot the term 'self-selection' 'country shopping' and 'luxury packs')