This was the first election after the full totality of the late 80s/early 90s recession. The opposition Liberal Party under John Hewson a Professor of Economics who succeeded Liberal leader Andrew Peacock in 1990 and in 1991 launched Fightback!, a radical prescription of tough, economically "dry" measures, including a radical overhaul of Medicare and Industrial Relations. But the contentious 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) was the centrepiece of the campaign. Hewson had been forced by pressure group activity and public opinion to exempt food from the proposed GST. The complexity surrounding what food was and wasn't to be exempt from the GST, and John Hewson's subsequent difficulty in explaining this to the Australian electorate was exemplified in the infamous birthday cake interview, considered by some as a turning point in the whole campaign.
For the first time since the 1966 election, an incumbent government had increased their vote and/or parliamentary majority.
There was an unusual circumstance in the seat of Dickson. One of the candidates, an independent, died very shortly before the election, making it necessary to hold a supplementary election on 17 April. Following the return of the Labor Party to government, Keating announced the makeup of his new ministry to be sworn in on 24 March, but kept the portfolio of Attorney-General open for Michael Lavarch subject to him winning Dickson on 17 April. He won the seat, and was appointed to the ministry on 27 April.