Bill Hayden had been leader of the Labor Party since 1977, and lead the party to an improved result at the 1980 election. However, after only just surviving a challenge from Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Bob Hawke and a disappointing by-election result in December 1982 caused many[who?] to question his ability to win the impending federal election. With a second challenge from Hawke imminent, Hayden resigned as party leader and Hawke was returned in the caucus ballot unopposed.
Elsewhere, Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser had announced a snap election hoping to capitalise on Labor's disunity and go to the polls against Hayden rather than Hawke. Later that afternoon a press conference Hayden famously said that "a drover's dog could lead the Labor Party to victory, the way the country is". The ensuing federal election was easily won by Labor and Hawke became Prime Minister.