The 1925 election had seen Labor win in a landslide, and the Nationalist Party lose five seats in the House of Assembly. In 1928, leading up to the election, the Nationalists reverted to "hard politics", criticising Labor Premier Joseph Lyons for an increasing unemployment problem and economic stagnation. This shift was much to the chagrin of Lyons, who had encouraged cordial relations with the Nationalists, and referred to their leader John McPhee as a "colleague and mate".
1 Prior to the 1925 election, the Nationalist Party had split with a number of candidates, including former Premier Walter Lee, contesting the election under a "Liberal" banner. The grouping subsequently reunited with the Nationalists.
The Labor Party won a slim majority of the vote in the 1928 election, but only fourteen seats. As the Nationalist Party held half the seats in the House of Assembly (one more than Labor, and with one independent in Franklin), Nationalist leader John McPhee was made Premier of Tasmania, and he praised Lyons for his statesmanship.