At the 1987 election, the CLP faced a challenge from the Northern Territory Nationals, a rebel conservative party led by former CLP Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth that was aligned with then-Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but not affiliated with the federal National Party of Australia. The NT Nationals took 17.79% of the primary vote, mostly from the CLP, but finished with only one member in the assembly. Hatton, despite a loss of three seats, retained a working majority.
Labor's vote remained virtually unchanged. As in 1983, its assembly tally was six.