Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says now is not a time to flick the budget switch to austerity.
But the federal government says Labor must detail what it intends to spend taxpayers' money on ahead of the election due in May.
Dr Chalmers said should Labor be successful at the election, he would aim to hand down his first budget before the end of 2022.
He said Labor's economic priorities centred on cleaner and cheaper energy, addressing skills shortages, investing in the NBN and child care while seeking co-investment under its planned national reconstruction fund.
"We'd look to start dealing with the legacy of a decade of rorts and waste and corruption," he told reporters after addressing a business forum in Sydney.
He told the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Labor's fiscal strategy recognises now was not the time to "flick the switch to austerity".
"Nor is it time to spray money around unnecessarily."
But Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said if Labor intended to spend more money, it needed to say what that would be on.
"That's really something the Labor Party has to be upfront about," Senator Birmingham told reporters.
"If they're going to spend tens of billions of dollars more delivering upon their vague promises of virtually free childcare, or free TAFE or extra spending on social welfare measures, detail those."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also weighed in, saying his government knows when to spend and when to stop.
"Under the Labor Party's financial management, they know how to start spending but they never know how to stop," he told reporters.
Dr Chalmers told ACCI there needs to be a private sector-led recovery.
"We want the spirit of collaboration to be ingrained into the culture of how we work - to be a defining feature of a new Labor government," he said.
"Employers, employees, government all at the same table."
ACTU president Michele O'Neil welcomed Labor's commitment to a consultative approach.
"Ensuring a seat at the table for unions, as well as government and businesses, means that the needs of workers are considered in the skills and training decision-making process," she said.
Dr Chalmers also warned Australia could not afford to have another budget on March 29 that was long on politics but short on purpose.
He will be judging Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's latest effort against five key tests.
They include whether it rebuilds communities impacted by flood and fire fast enough, whether it eases cost-of-living pressures responsibly and whether it ends the rorts and waste and sets out a clearer path to budget repair.
He also wants it to support the recovery and makes supply chains, businesses, vulnerable communities, public health, and family budgets more secure and resilient.
Finally, it needs to lift speed limit on the economy - boosting productivity to get growth without adding to inflation.
"So it can't be yet another budget long on politics and short on purpose. Another political patch-and-paint job," Dr Chalmers said.
"Another decade of stagnant living standards can't be the thanks Australians get for all the sacrifices they've made."
Australian Associated Press
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