He’s the last man standing in the Palmer United Party – at least as far as the Senate goes – after the resignations of his colleagues Jacqui Lambie and more recently Glenn Lazarus.
Dio Wang is a self-confessed shy politician who was often overshadowed during the election campaign by his larger-than-life boss Clive Palmer.
But when Dio Wang finally rose to speak during his maiden speech in the Senate he used the opportunity to bring up the past.
Not Australia’s past, but the past of the Chinese city of his birth, Nanjing, where, it’s claimed, up to 300,000 people were raped, tortured and killed by Japanese imperial soldiers in the late 1930s.
Dio Wang told the Senate the six weeks of the alleged massacre felt like the longest in China’s history.
“Robert Wilson, an American physician who was working at Nanjing Hospital at the time, wrote the following on Saturday 18 December 1937 in a family letter:
“‘Today marks the sixth day of the modern Dante’s Inferno, written in huge letters with blood and rape. Murder by the wholesale and rape by the thousands of cases. There seems to be no stop to the ferocity, lust and atavism of the brutes.’
“My colleagues, maybe Australia received a better bunch of imperial Japanese invaders that some could even suggest they were ‘honourable’. But I believe the right word should not be ‘honourable’, it has to be ‘horrible’.”
In his office in east Perth, Senator Wang is standing by his call for an apology from Japan.
“I guess the first step in my mind would be to acknowledge they did something wrong in the Second World War. Embrace it. Embrace your mistakes. Just like Germany did and then put it aside and look forward to what you can do to make the international relationships better.”
Senator Wang says that Australia should also take a look at its international relations.
“If I were the foreign minister I would probably tell you we shouldn’t appear to be favouring Japan over China. But I’m only a Senator so that’s my personal view and that I’m not in any way trying to have an impact on how the country is going in that regard. I would think clearly China and Korea suffered a lot during the Second World War as the Japanese army invaded them and if you look at history and use your correct judgement you would notice that we should probably be aligned with China and Korea a bit more.”
Japan’s acting ambassador to Australia Akira Imamura says it’s not deniable that large numbers of non-combatants were killed and other acts of violence took place after the Japanese army entered Nanjing.
“Japanese government has expressed its deep remorse and heartfelt apology to the people of Asian nations and other countries with regard to the suffering and damage caused by Japan through the aggression and colonial rules in these years. And having learned lessons from past mistakes, we made a very strong commitment not to repeat them and contribute to peace and development in Asia and the rest of the world.”
Senator Wang believes his life would have been quite different if he’d remained in China, but he says he’s very happy to have made his life here.
“Yes, definitely Australia helped to shape me. If I were in China now, I’d probably be an engineer in a large company, or a small one, but I would probably not be interested in politics at all. So to that sense, Australia gave me a great opportunity to be part of the country and make some great decisions, hopefully, for the country.”
Dio Wang was born in Nanjing, 34 years ago.
An only child, he says he was “spoilt” by his hardworking parents who started working when they were 16 years old.
He studied engineering at university in China, but then decided to make an investment in his education, which would later be for his life.
Dio Wang chose Australia as the best place to further his education and studied urban planning at Melbourne University.
It seems all the pieces in the now 34-year-old’s life started falling into place.
He met his Chinese-born wife Josephine in the same course and after a few years in Melbourne they moved to Perth as Western Australia’s mining boom kicked off.
He eventually headed Australasian Resources, which was majority owned by self-claimed billionaire Clive Palmer.
“I think we complement each other to a degree. I’m shy. He’s not shy. So I guess that’s a natural working partnership.
Dio Wang’s interests in politics lie in improving Western Australia’s agricultural production – particularly exports to the Chinese market, and ensuring Australia maintains its investment in research and innovation.
He decided to join the political fray after what he says was a betrayal of trust by the previous Labor government over the introduction of the mining and carbon taxes.
“It got me thinking, why are politicians doing things like this? Why can’t things be improved? So I’ve been interested in politics ever since then. And when Clive decided he’d had enough of politicians and he ran the party I put my hand up and said I want to be part of it and that’s how I got involved.”
Dio Wang says he does disagree at times with the party leader, but he will always tow the party line.
He says he will listen to all sides of an argument, but there’s no point being in the party unless you vote the way the party, or Clive Palmer, wants.
Something that’s been left to him with the resignations of his former party colleagues Glenn Lazarus and Jacqui Lambie – leaving the Palmer United Party a party of two.