Labor leader Anthony Albanese has directed his shadow cabinet to offset spending commitments with savings measures ahead of the next election.
Mr Albanese has signalled a major departure from the party's big tax-and-spend agenda at the last national poll.
Some caucus members are critical of the small target approach and want the party to pursue major reforms.
But Mr Albanese says he will not apologise for being economically responsible.
"There's nothing new about a proposal like that," he told reporters in Cairns on Monday.
"We had similar processes before the last election, before the one before that, we had similar processes when we were in government. When new proposals come forward to help to identify how that will be paid for.
"I make no apologies for the fact that Labor will be fiscally responsible. We think it's important."
Mr Albanese insisted Labor would still take bold ideas to the next election, pointing to the party's plan for universal child care.
He argued the policy was bold, smart and backed in by economists, saying it would produce a $2 return for every dollar invested.
Mr Albanese said an industrial relations policy to be released later this week would also deliver major benefits without costing the government.
"Smart policy is good policy is sound fiscal policy, and that's what I'll be doing at the next election," he said.