The 1990 election resulted in a modest swing to the opposition Coalition. Though Labor had to contend with the late 80s/early 90s recession, they won a record fourth successive election and a record 10 years in government with Bob Hawke as leader, a level of political success not previously seen by federal Labor. The election was to be Hawke's last as Prime Minister and Labor leader, he was replaced by Paul Keating on 20 December 1991 who would go on to lead Labor to win a record fifth successive election and a record 13 years in government resulting from the 1993 election.
John Howard lost the 1987 election to Hawke, and Andrew Peacock was elected Deputy Leader in a show of party unity. In May 1989 Peacock's supporters mounted a party room coup which returned Peacock to the leadership. Hawke's Treasurer, Paul Keating, ridiculed him by asking: "Can the soufflé rise twice?" and calling him "all feathers and no meat." Hawke's government was in political trouble, with high interest rates and a financial crisis in Victoria.
At the election, the Coalition won a slim majority of the two-party vote, and slashed Labor's majority from 24 seats to nine. However, it only managed a swing of 0.9 percent, which was not nearly enough to deliver the additional seven seats the Coalition needed to make Peacock Prime Minister. Despite having regained much of what the non-Labor forces had lost three years earlier, Peacock was forced to resign after the election.
It also saw the Nationals' leader, Blunt, defeated in his own seat of Richmond by Labor challenger Neville Newell--only the second time that a major party leader had lost his own seat. Newell benefited from the presence of independent and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott. Her preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Newell on the third count, allowing Newell to win despite having been third on the primary vote.