Sometimes I wonder if it would be worth exploring ways to keep my money at ING Australia, which currently offers an introductory rate of 5% on savings accounts, dropping to 3.5% thereafter. Even with foreign exchange fees you'd still probably come out ahead, although I imagine it's hard/impossible to open an account there if you're not based in Australia. Has anyone looked into this?
I used to be an executive of an American subsidiary of Australian company. AT the time I had a financial account in Australia - not a checking/savings account but rather one holding stock options. The rules might differ a bit but it was basically an Australian brokerage account. There were no real special rules except that I had to confirm that I was complying with all US reporting laws. I was not a resident of Australia. They seemed to have far less of an issue letting me have an account as an American than a European bank does!
Brad, you are in Canada, right? That could make a difference and could make it even less of an issue.
I have looked into having some Australian accounts. I think Asia is going to be where it's at in the next few decades. Australia is well-positioned to benefit from that in many ways and generally has a lot going for it. But since I closed out my former account about 6 years ago I have not looked into the details and rules.
A word of warning though from someone who closely watched AUD/USD exchange rates for nearly 10 years because they were important for our business decisions - the AUD was extremely stable for a long time. But it is highly sensitive to natural resource prices. The strong AUD/USD rate now is probably related to the price of gold being high. I was just reading over the weekend that some big models, including Goldman Sachs' are predicting big declines in the gold price. Basically the consensus explanation for why gold has gone up is fear and declining interest rates. Well, fear in the world is largely subsiding and interest rates aren't going significantly lower. So basically, expect the AUD to weaken over the next few years back to closer to its historical rate, perhaps by 10-20%. That will wipe out any interest rate disparity. The government of Australia could support a decline to support trade as well.
So, while I am bullish on Australia, it's economy, and Australia stocks in general, I would not be in a hurry to hold its currency.