Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia speaks at a reception celebrating the forthcoming Invictus Games Sydney 2018, attended by Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, at Australia House in London, Britain April 21, 2018. Alastair Grant/Pool via Reuters

Malcolm Turnbull thought Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd were “miserable, miserable ghosts.” The former Australian prime minister has been heard in an audio recording criticising his predecessors for staying in politics after leaving office.

In the recording obtained by 9News, Turnbull is heard speaking to a young leadership group in New York last week about the Australia’s political atmosphere and leaders. He has discussed why he quit Parliament immediately after being kicked out in the Liberal spill in August.

He said party members were determined to shake up the leadership, despite him apparently leading in the polls. That’s when he took a swipe at Rudd and Abbott, who still remained in the Parliament despite losing votes from their parties. He said he had always maintained that he would resign from Parliament immediately after ceasing to be prime minister, not wanting to “become a trappiest monk.”

“When you stop being prime minister, that’s it,” he can be heard saying. “There is no way I would be hanging around like embittered Kevin Rudd or tony Abbott. Seriously, these people are like miserable, miserable ghosts.”

There were earlier reports that claimed he described Rudd and Abbott as “lipid,” and then it was changed to “limpet.” After some confusions as to why he would call the two either a sea snail or a molecule, Turnbull himself clarified what word he used.

“I hate to spoil a good lipid or limpet (or lipidinous limpet) story — but the adjective mistaken for, variously, an indissoluble fat or tenacious sea slug is ‘embittered’ I guess an iPhone at 50 paces is not an ideal recording device!” [sic] he tweeted.

Rudd was defeated by Julia Gillard in a Labor spill in 2010 before he regained the position in 2013. Abbott lost in a leadership spill in 2015 to Turnbull. He is still in the Parliament, serving as member for Warringah.