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When Politicians Retire, Is There A Graceful Way To Go?

Just a little over six months after he made his sensational exit from politics, Malcolm Turnbull has come out swinging at his former party.

Speaking with the BBC overnight, the former PM argued he was ousted because his colleagues were afraid he would go on to win the next federal election, citing "internal politics of the Liberal Party" for his demise.

"As I said at the time, it was essentially a form of madness that occurred, whipped up internally and also amplified by voices in the media," Turnbull told the Politics Live program in London.

Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison after a Liberal Party leadership spill in August last year, after which he resigned from parliament.

Image: AAP

Despite his retirement, the former member for Wentworth is proving to be a hangover the Liberals can't quite shake.

"Normally when you replace a leader, you replace the unpopular person whose fate is sealed with somebody who is much more popular and gives you a chance at winning," Turnbull said in the interview, referring to Morrison's selection.

"That was not what happened. The party on any of the objective indications is polling in a worse position than it was in August, I mean you can't deny that's a fact."

READ MORE: Liberal Candidate Unleashed On Scott Morrison After Being Dumped

It's a not-so-subtle take down of a party already long in damage control,  months out from a federal election.

The remarks come just days after former foreign minister Julie Bishop -- who will quit politics at the election -- said the Coalition would be poised to beat Bill Shorten's Labor if she had been chosen to lead the party during the spill.

Member for Curtin Julie Bishop announced she would not contest the next election in February. Image: AAP

The remarks, from a departed and soon-to-be-departed politician, raise the question: can Australian politicians gracefully leave the game? Bow out, rise above and thrive elsewhere, their former colleagues fading in the rear-view mirror?

Here's what few others before them have done.

Julia Gillard

Like Turnbull, Julia Gillard made her exit from politics after a spill, where she lost the leadership of the Labor Party to Kevin Rudd in 2013.

Unlike Turnbull, she has managed to not only settle into post prime ministerial life, but flourish in it largely removed from the dramas of her time in office.

Gillard is now the chair of Australia's leading mental health awareness body Beyond Blue, chair of Global Partnership of Education, and BFFs with global mega-star Rihanna -- please see actual photo evidence below.

Julia Gillard with Rihanna and Hugh Evans teaming up for a global education campaign. Image: Julia Gillard/Twitter
Malcolm Fraser

Gillard may have taken a leaf out of Malcolm Fraser's book, who long before her also managed to remain active in public affairs without headline grabbing fodder.

Fraser -- who became prime minister after Gough Whitlam was dismissed in 1975 -- spent retirement following his seven-and-a-half-year term as a humanitarian and defender of human rights.

READ MORE: Why The Liberal Party Women Wore Red

He was chosen as a member of an international group of 'eminent persons' seeking to end apartheid in South Africa and from 1987 to 2002, was chairman of international relief agency Care Australia.

Malcolm Fraser greets Jimmy Carter the 39th President of the United States, at the White House. Image: Getty

On the other hand, there are a few familiar faces -- in that, they keep reappearing -- which would suggest going quietly isn't for everyone. 

Mark Latham

If an inability to completely step away is the earmark of a slightly more troublesome retirement, Mark Latham arguably runs the masterclass in how to make a messy exit -- albeit not permanently.

READ MORE: The CV That Mark Latham Sent To Pauline Hanson

Latham was the Labor leader when the party lost the 2004 federal election to John Howard. After quitting politics the following year, he managed to stir up multiple controversies and subsequently lose multiple jobs.

He was sacked as a commentator from Sky News after speculating on air that a high school student who featured in a video about International Women's Day was "gay".

Latham has since joined Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party, which has been a bumpy alliance since the outset. 

Mark Latham and One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson. Image: AAP
Kevin Rudd

Despite admitting in his farewell speech "it really is time for me to zip", former prime minister (x2) Kevin Rudd has held onto some gripes since his political departure in 2013.

Following the release of his second auto-biography 'The PM Years', Rudd was critised for a series of claims he made against former colleagues.

In the book, Rudd labelled his then Treasurer Wayne Swan as "treacherous" and a "coward" for his role in the leadership coup against him. He also claimed now Opposition finance minister Jim Chalmers cried in a meeting when he "pleaded" for his pre-selection.

Rudd recently used Chinese social media site Weibo to call out Malcolm Turnbull's policies towards Beijing, the ABC also reported.