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August 19, 2019

Maxwell Newton. Proprietor 1971-1977

Maxwell Newton: on the US lecture circuit

Maxwell Newton was described by Jim Grant, is his Grant’s Interest Rate Observer (Oct. 22, 1984): “By 1977, his net worth was $3 million or so at the top. He was re-building his fortunes in pornographic books and sexual paraphernalia.

“Smut was the next logical step, Max relates, because he’d been printing dirty magazines in order to spread the costs of his printing operations over a wider base.

Maxwell Newton

“It was [Rupert] Murdoch who helped him back into journalism, Max says, first, by refusing to print his ads for ‘sexy grab bags’ in the Murdoch newspapers (a crippling blow to Max’s marital aids business) and then subsequently by publishing his articles in The Australian and by bringing him to the New York Post.”

Current day Melbourne Observer Editor Ash Long takes up the story: “On the weekend before Easter 1985, the company I was working for at the time (Victorian Media Corporation) was drastically in need of an injection of funds. A chance call to Newton, in Connecticut, saw me on board a Qantas 747 within 24 hours to see if those funds could be obtained through Newton’s help.

“So to New York in 26 hours flat, and a train ride from New York Central, hundreds of feet under the giant Pan Am building crossing 44th Street. Newton was waiting for me at the end of an hour’s ride of the hourly Stamford commuter train to Drayton in Connecticut. Snow-cold Drayton saw an auburn-going-white-haired Newton meet me in his small two-door Ford Escort. His wife, vivacious red-haired Olivia, greeted me and introduced herself as ‘Mrs Newton The Third’.

“First, we travelled to the local Ford-Mercury-Lincoln dealer, where Max and I moved across to his newly-serviced Lincoln, for which Olivia had told Max had done some deal. Max borrowed $10 from me to fill up with unleaded gas, and we were on our way. Newton had pride in showing me houses he had purchased on his earnings, included in which was a $150,000 annual salary from the New York Post.”

“Max prided that he was flying out son Antony with wife Mary and their two boys. Antony had worked Max in distributing his Canberra Post giveaway newspaper, and had farmed at Berrima in New South Wales. Max said that he had left Australia on November 14, 1978, with Olivia – and $5.

Maxwell Newton

Maxwell Newton: as Editor of The Australian. 1964.

“Now he had four homes, including his own $½-million property in Wilton – the most affluent county in America. He said he was now financially secure and had again hit the big-time professionally.

The Fed – a book he had published was featured in The New York Times Books – had sold well with 130,000 copies. He was doing well on the lecture circuit including work with Lockheed in Los Angeles, Zurich, New York, London and in the Bahamas.”

Ash Long continues: “As we drove, Max had to take ‘piss-stops’, which he said, were caused by his diabetes. He took a capsule which he said was ‘lithium nitrate’, a metal which he said took away depression and fear. He told of his days since as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and that he had recognised God.

“We lunched at Harpers, a local restaurant, where I confused the Americans by asking for a gin squash. Newton was satisfied with a tomato juice. We discussed possible financing for my Australian company including names of brokers, contacts at banks, and other possible sources fo dragging us out of trouble.

“Newton recalled how he had obtained funds from Marrickville Holdings, from doctors, and from a finance broker in Melbourne.”

“Back at his home, Newton’s home included facsimile, four computers with ‘Wordstar’ programming and facilities for electronic mail-boxes for subscribers to his various news services through ‘MaxNews’.

“Newton said he was contributing not only to the The New York Post, but also three columns weekly for the Sydney Daily Mirror, and one each for the Daily Telegraph and The Australian, as well as The Times in London.

From The Australian. July 24, 1990.

“We recalled his days of his home at 607 Toorak Road (‘Towart Lodge’), funded by Eastern Suburbs Permanent Building Society cash. Max laughed about losing the contact to print the Church of England newspaper at Regal Press because publishing hands used spoils of pornogaphic newspaper to bundle the religious papers.

“Max turned his mind to Australia. That previous weekend he had revealed making undercover payments of cash to a Premier (Robert Askin of NSW), and he had been interviewed on Good Morning Australia, and Terry Willesee’s TV program. Former Sunday Observer producer John Brook was producer at GMA.

Ash Long continues: “The last contact that I had was a return Christmas message in early 1986 with Olivia writing that Max was slowly recovering from a stroke.

Max Newton died on July 23, 1990, at the age of 61. We gathered at St John’s, Toorak, for a Thanksgiving Service on July 27. Speakers included Alan Armsden and Jim Marrett, who had worked for Max at the Sunday Observer.