Its effort however, was frustrated by an Opposition majority in the Senate. This sparked a double dissolution election in May 1974 which Labor won although with a reduced majority, and failed narrowly to win a majority in the Senate.
In 1975 the Whitlam Government became embroiled in a series of controversial incidents. Opposition from the Senate climaxed in October 1975, when it refused to pass supply for the functions of government. This sparked a protracted constitutional crisis which saw the Governor General Sir John Kerr dismiss the Whitlam Government on 11 November 1975 and appoint the Opposition minority as Caretaker Government. The actions of Sir John Kerr sent shock waves around the country. The Labor movement around Australia took protest action in the form of strikes and rallies in defence of the Whitlam Government. Within days of the Dismissal, however, the media clearly came out and supported the actions of Sir John Kerr and Labor was defeated in the 1975 Election. And Labor was again defeated in 1977 and 1980.
What was the Dismissal all about? Fundamentally, the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government 25 years ago was about the oldest question in Australian politics - the never-ending effort by the Australian Right to deny the legitimacy of any Federal Labor Government.
Nothing has changed since 1904, when an apoplectic Sir John Forrest shouted across the House of Representatives Chamber in Melbourne at the newly-installed Labor Ministry of John Christian Watson, 'What are those men doing in our places?'
The Dismissal was simply the supreme example of this age-old denial of Labor's legitimacy. Attempts to invoke conspiracy theories, such as CIA involvement, miss the point.
November 1975 was the crisis the Australian Tories had to have.
Toe-cutter's home truth
It didn't begin on 16 October 1975 , the day Malcolm Fraser, as Leader of the Opposition, claimed to have found the 'reprehensible circumstance' to justify using his numbers in the Senate to block supply. That was the day Whitlam sacked the Minister for Minerals and Energy, Rex Connor, for misleading the Parliament over the so-called 'loans affair'.
It didn't begin in August, when the death of Queensland Labor Senator Bert Milliner gave the Opposition the temporary numbers in the Senate - enough to block Bill Hayden's Budget, but not enough to reject it outright.
It didn't begin with the appointment of Lionel Murphy to the High Court in February, and his replacement by a non-Labor Senator, in breach of all established conventions, by the Lewis Government of New South Wales.
In reality, it began in December 1972 - from the day Whitlam brought Labor back to power after 23 years in the wilderness.
Senator Reg Withers, the 'toe-cutter' from Western Australia , immediately dismissed the result 'as an aberration on the part of a few thousand people living in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.'
Withers told the Senate on 8 March 1973 , 'Because of the temporary electoral insanity of the two most populous States, the Senate may well be called upon to protect the national interest by exercising its undoubted constitutional rights and powers.'
This notion of a higher national interest over-riding the decision of the electorate lies at the very heart of the Tory doctrine of Labor's permanent illegitimacy. And it partly explains why the doctrine is seldom pursued with the same ferocity at the State level. Withers was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He master-minded the Coalition strategy throughout. He made no bones about it, 'as early as April 1973,' he is on record, 'we embarked on a course to force an election for the House of Representatives.'
Calling their bluff
Whitlam called their bluff by calling the Double Dissolution for 18 May 1974. But his second victory, which included the total destruction of the Democratic Labor Party, and Labor equality of numbers in the Senate, changed nothing about the denial of legitimacy.
Bill Snedden's post-election statement that 'we didn't lose the election; we just didn't win enough seats in the House of Representatives' was not as fatuous as it seemed. It was in fact a classic expression of the Tory doctrine.
Bert Milliner's death merely provided an opportunity for its implementation. The crisis of October-November 1975 was not a true constitutional crisis at all. It was purely a political crisis, relating to the opportunistic use of numbers in the Senate. And it was about to be resolved in Labor's favour.
One defection was enough to pass the Budget and end the crisis. We now know, as a matter of record, that there could have been as many as four defections within 48 hours after 11 November.
Sir John Kerr's deceit, his ambush saved Fraser from defeat and humiliation. But even Kerr, indeed, especially Kerr, could never have dared to act in that way without the underlying assumption that the ordinary rules, standards, decencies and conventions need not apply to Labor governments.
Those who believe that five successive wins by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating have placed Labor's legitimacy beyond doubt ignore the present reality.
The line of attack has switched. It is now directed against the legitimacy of the unions, against their very existence. The new Tories see it very clearly: Why bother about Labor's body politic, if you can destroy its heart.
*Graham Freudenberg worked as a special adviser to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. He is the author of A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam in Politics, Cause for Power: The Official History of the NSW ALP and A Figure of Speech - a political memoir.