"With the TPP trade agreement also back on the agenda, there will be plenty of optimism that the sector will continue to grow as the year progresses", Harker says.
"This growth means jobs for Victorians, and more opportunities for Victorian businesses".
The December reading had marked the highest level of the index since it began measuring the performance of the sector nearly 20 years ago.
The Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index eased from an all-time high recorded in December, but still indicated a sharp improvement in activity, with the headline index at 57.6 for the month.
THE Philippines' manufacturing PMI continued to expand in January but a slower pace than the previous month, reflecting moderation in both output and new orders, which were tempered by higher excise taxes, an IHS Markit/Nikkei survey found.
"The pick-up in manufacturing activity does not necessarily have to reflect in domestic inflationary pressures as they include non-tradeable sectors", said Trinh Nguyen, senior economist at Natixis in Hong Kong.
Australia's manufacturing sector experienced a strong start to the year in January, according to data compiled by the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group).
And output growth eased last month to a three-month low and could wobble in the months ahead on GST woes.
Economists polled by Reuters expected the private Caixin/Markit PMI to come in at 51.3 in January versus 51.5 in December.
However, the outlook for Asia's export-reliant economies remains clouded by worries about US trade protectionism as the Trump administration starts translating last year's tough talk into action.
"When we look at the risk arising from USA protectionism and trade in-fighting, we adopt a bottom-up approach in identifying potential victims", she said.